Istanbul is seeking the Olympics at a time when Turkey is in conflict with Syria. Turkey is a former ally of Syria but turned against President Bashar Assad's regime over its violent crackdown on dissent in the nearly 2-year-old civil war that has left 60,000 dead. Turkey is supporting the Syrian opposition and rebels and is providing shelter to some 150,000 refugees."This is a global issue," Arat said. "This does not really affect our bid and our future plans. Turkey is a unique example of a secular democracy."