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Turkey-Syria Border Tension: Three Things to Know

Speaker: Steven A. Cook, Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
October 4, 2012

Turkey's parliament has authorized the country's military to take further action against Syria after a mortar attack on Turkish territory killed five civilians. CFR's Steven A. Cook says the decision is unlikely to lead to war between Turkey and Syria for three reasons:

  • Turkish interests: While the Turks reserve the right to retaliate against Syrian provocations, they have also clearly indicated that "they are not interested in the Syrian conflict widening," Cook says.
  • Syrian interests: "Syrians don't want war themselves," Cook says, and they have conveyed that cross-border shelling will not happen again.
  • The Kurdish factor: Turkey is also unlikely to pursue a full-scale invasion of Syria because it could encourage the nationalist sentiments of Syria's large Kurdish population, and result in violent action by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Cook argues.

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