by Shi Zhuying
ISTANBUL, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- As the crisis in neighboring Syria drags on, Turkey is increasingly burdened by the influx of Syrian refugees, emerging presence of domestic terrorism, as well as the fear for sectarian splits.
"Turkey is too ambitious and arrogant, trying to go it alone in order to prove itself as a regional superstar," Amanda Paul, an analyst at Turkey's European Policy Center, said Wednesday, referring to the government's stance toward Syria.
Turkey, once a close ally of Syria, has imposed a series of sanctions, including an arms embargo, on the unrest-torn country due to its alleged crackdown on anti-government protesters. Bilateral relations strained even further after Syria in June reportedly shot down a Turkish military jet, which crashed into the Mediterranean Sea.
Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party said recently that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government has dragged Turkey into an armed conflict in the " Middle East quagmire" and its Syrian policy has "fully collapsed."
INFLUX OF REFUGEES
Already overwhelmed by almost 90,000 Syrian refugees, Turkey starts to ban the arrivals of new refugees until more camps can be built. Currently, many Syrian refugees are stranded on the border, including children and women.
In late August, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said his country could not handle more than 100,000 Syrian refugees and pushed the international community to establish a buffer zone inside Syria to house refugees.
However, last week, Syrian opposition leader Abdulbaset Sieda said Turkey still plans to open new refugee camps to accommodate more people arriving from Syria. "Turkey prepares for taking 120, 000 Syrian refugees now," Sieda said.
Yet, the prospect of Ankara making even greater efforts to shelter refugees has turned thinner, especially after Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan complained also last week that hosting Syrians had already cost Turkey more than 300 million U.S. dollars.
"At this moment, Turkey has no financial support from other countries. The 300 million dollars are all from Turkey's own treasury," Abdullah Bozkurt, a Turkish political analyst, told Xinhua.
"Turkey should unite the Arab League and other member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to find a solution for the Syrian crisis. As far as I know, OIC has already started a financial campaign to help Turkey and Jordan better shelter the Syrian refugees," Bozkurt said.
Meanwhile, Bozkurt said that the emerging presence of terrorism in Turkey is alarming, citing that the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), a terrorist group listed by the Turkish government and allegedly backed by Syria and Iran, have carried out a series of terrorist activities across Turkey "as a revenge to Turkish government's Syrian policy."
"Syria and Iran provide financial and arms to the PKK terrorists. They even share intelligence with PKK," Bozkurt said.
"As Turkey is most vocal in calling on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave, both Syria and Iran are now using the Kurdish card to punish Turkey," according to Paul.
Paul said that the Kurdish issue would remain Turkey's Achilles heel in solving the Syrian crisis.
Last month, a bombing attack in the province of Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey claimed the lives of 10, with about 70 others wounded. Turkish authorities said that the PKK is believed to be behind the attack. However, the PKK denied responsibility for it.
Last Sunday, a string of simultaneous terrorist attacks targeted military checkpoints in southeastern Turkey, leaving 10 security members killed. A day later, a suicide bomb blasted a police station in Istanbul, leaving one police officer dead and eight civilians injured.
"To me, Turkey has not yet developed a clear diplomacy to solve the Syrian crisis," said John Esposito, a professor of International Affairs and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University, in an interview with Xinhua.
Moreover, "the Sunni versus Alawite nature of the conflict in Syria may also inflame Turkey's own sectarian divides," Omer Taspinar, a professor of national security strategy at U.S. National War College, said.
Turkish Alawite population is estimated to account for almost 20 percent of the country's total population.
Analysts deem that, as the influx of Syrian refugees continues, the sectarian division could be on the rise in Turkey's border regions.
"Turkey's southern provinces are heavily populated by Alawite who are in support of Assad. But most of the Syrian refugees come to Turkey are Sunni opposition against Assad's Alawite ruling elite," said Davut Eskiocak, a representative from Association of Alawite Believers in Turkey's southern province of Hatay.
"Sunni-Alawite relation is deteriorating seriously in provinces such as Hatay," Eskiocak said, adding that "In my neighborhood, Sunni and Alawite used to live peacefully. But recently, there are often conflicts and fights between the two communities."
Besides, "Hatay's economy depends heavily on trade with neighboring countries such as Syria. Now everything stops. Many local firms are on the edge of bankruptcy," Eskiocak said.
Cross-border tourism also slowed down. "Two years ago, Hatay's two border crossings witnessed a total number of 2.5 million tourists, but now the number is zero," said Gulay Gul, president of Hatay's Industrialists and Businessmen Association.
The Turkish government now faces growing criticism of its policy toward the Syrian crisis.
"Ankara doesn't have the power to solve the Syrian crisis by itself," said Gokhan Bacik, director of the Middle East Strategic Research Center at Turkey's Zirve University. "So Ankara desperately needs support from the United States. But the American support is not coming," he said.
Erdogan said last week that the United States lacks initiative on Syria and its general election hampers its action toward Syria.
"Right now, there are certain things being expected from the United States. The United States had not yet catered to those expectations," Erdogan said.
However, Washington would not take direct military actions against Syria before or after its general election due to the strong public aversion of war and its bad economic situation, according to some U.S. political analysts.