Turkey's support for rebels in neighboring Syria is helping to fuel anti-government protests that continue to unsettle the country. But analysts say the demonstrations aren’t about to prompt Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government to alter its policy on the Syrian conflict.
Since the end of 2011, areas of southern Turkey have served as a logistical "rear base" for the rebels to rest, resupply and organize. Turkey also hosts about 400,000 Syrian refugees, living both in camps provided by the government and in private housing. At least 40,000 more are camped just along the border, apparently believing that proximity to Turkey affords them some protection. The Turkish government has spent more than $1 billion in humanitarian aid for Syrians, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The government’s Syria policy has fostered unease among many Turks, who worry that their country could become embroiled in the Syrian conflict. Those concerns have provided one source of fuel for anti-government protests that have vexed Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party since the start of June.
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Justin Vela is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.