News / Middle East

Clashes Between Syrian Kurds, Rebels Worry Turkey

Members of the Free Syrian Army set up a fire to obscure the Kurdish militants' vision, while standing alert during a truce on  top of a hilly mountain in the Kurdish area of al-Qaftal, overlooking the town of Azaz, October 31, 2012.
Members of the Free Syrian Army set up a fire to obscure the Kurdish militants' vision, while standing alert during a truce on top of a hilly mountain in the Kurdish area of al-Qaftal, overlooking the town of Azaz, October 31, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Dorian Jones
— Clashes between Syrian Kurdish forces and Syrian rebels have been on the rise the past few weeks. Concentrating control in their own areas of northwestern Syria, Kurdish leaders have been slow to join the broader rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, prefering to seek greater regional autonomy. This is a big concern for neighboring Turkey.

When Syrian rebels seized the border post at Ras al-Ain on November 8, they celebrated the victory and went on to "liberate" the town, a place where both Arabs and Kurds live on Syria's northeastern border with Turkey.

But the Kurdish inhabitants quickly saw the perils of the move. Within days, dozens of people were dead in clashes between Kurdish militias and the rebels.

Turkish soldiers take up position near the border with Syria, in the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, November 26, 2012.Turkish soldiers take up position near the border with Syria, in the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, November 26, 2012.
x
Turkish soldiers take up position near the border with Syria, in the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, November 26, 2012.
Turkish soldiers take up position near the border with Syria, in the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, November 26, 2012.
Ankara is worried about the clashes in the region, fearing that Syria's Kurdish Party, the PYD, is supporting Kurdish insurgents in Turkey, known as the PKK, with encouragement from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Diplomatic correspondent Semih Idiz of the Hurriyet daily said, "If there is an overt PKK connection with the PYD, and there is a Turkey-friendly outfit that seems to be combating this, I can see how there are people in Turkey who might see this as being to Turkey's advantage. But I don't know that there is a direct Turkish involvement in this."

The PKK has been fighting for greater autonomy against Turkish security forces since the 1980s. The Syrian crisis has reopened the question of regional Kurdish autonomy, rekindling hope among some Kurds that their 30-million-strong flock - divided between Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran - could emerge with their own state.

Ankara fears an autonomous Syrian Kurdish region on its border would further strengthen the PKK insurgency.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this month warned that Turkey would never allow it.
 
International relations analyst Cengiz Aktar of Bahcesehir University said Ankara's increasingly tough language convinces him that Turkey could be involved in fueling the clashes.

"According to reports, the clashes are not between the Syrian opposition and the Kurds but between the Kurds and al-Qaida-like militia directly and indirectly supported by the Turkish authorities. If that is true, it means Turkey is implementing its policy towards the Kurdish-populated areas of Syria where, as the prime minister has indicated, it won't tolerate any sort of autonomy," Aktar said.

Gultan Kisanak is the leader of Turkey's main pro-Kurdish party, the Peace and Democracy Party. She also accuses Turkish security forces of being behind the clashes. Similar claims were made in a press release Tuesday by the Kurdistan National Congress, a coalition of Kurdish groups across Europe.

But Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal dismissed the notion. He said, "We don't have any kind of place in such an internal clash. It's not in the interest of anybody to continue clashes while [they] are fighting an oppressive regime," he said.

According to Turkish media reports, the leader of the Iraqi Kurdish regional government, Masoud Barzani, is seeking to mediate between the Syrian Kurds and the Syrian opposition.

In recent years, Ankara has developed good economic and political relations with the neighboring Iraqi Kurds after a decade of mistrust.

International relations analyst Aktar said Turkey needs to develop similar relations with Syrian Kurds, but may need help.

"When a semi-autonomous region appeared in the north of Iraq, Turkey did not like it. But it was convinced by the Americans," said Aktar. "So Turkey needs again the good office of the U.S. to create the same type of working relationship with the Syrian Kurds."

Aktar warned the alternative will be increasing tensions between Ankara and Syrian Kurds. He said that would result in further clashes and confrontations.

You May Like

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid