The focus of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s May 16 talks with US President Barack Obama may be on Syria, but with public rage growing in Turkey over two deadly car bombs in the Syrian-border town of Reyhanlı, the chief aim of the discussion now may be how to limit a potential Turkish domestic backlash.
Worryingly for the Turkish government, the May 10 attacks, which killed 51 and injured over a hundred, have put its policy of strongly backing both the political and armed Syrian opposition under critical domestic scrutiny. “The bombing will have significant political repercussions,” warned Sinan Ülgen, head of the Istanbul-based Center for Economic and Foreign Policy Studies, known as EDAM. “What the bombing did is actually to lay bare the risks involved in Turkey’s Syria policy, which is already, to start with, not a popular policy. The people blame this strong assertive Syrian policy for putting the lives of Turkish people at risk.”
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Dorian Jones is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.