Public Opinion Shifts Against Ankara As Conflict in Syria Crosses Border
ISTANBUL—The Turkish government, which is spearheading efforts to force Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power, is facing public skepticism over its Syria policy as the civil war next door increasingly spills across the border.
Developments in recent weeks have magnified Turks' unease over Syria's 18-month uprising.
More than 82,000 Syrians have now sought refuge in Turkey, at a cost of around $300 million to the Turkish government, Ankara said Tuesday, as Turkish border towns that relied on trade with Syria have seen economic activity wither and unemployment rise. Turkish television is showing footage of the country's nationals, which have been kidnapped in Syria and Lebanon by groups loyal to Damascus, targeting Turks seemingly due to Ankara's anti-Assad stance.
Above all, Turkey is facing its bloodiest summer since the early 1990s. The militant Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which lawmakers and commentators say is emboldened by the Syria crisis, is stepping up attacks against security forces and civilians.
The result has been a blizzard of criticism from Turkey's media and opposition parties that has appeared to feed public unease that the government's hawkish policy—which includes hosting the opposition Syrian National Council, offering haven to the Free Syrian Army's leadership and reinforcing the border with tanks—could draw Turkey further into the sectarian conflict...