News / Middle East

Ankara Worried by Kurdish Gains in Syria, Observers Say

Kurdish Gains in Syria Prompt Fears in Turkeyi
July 19, 2013 9:49 PM
Syrian Kurds have taken control of a border crossing into Turkey, which fears the gains could embolden its own Kurdish separatists. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, analysts warn the northeast of Syria could become a new battleground.
Henry Ridgwell
After days of clashes with Islamist opposition groups, Syrian Kurds seized control of the border town of Ras al-Ain Thursday.
With only a razor wire fence separating the town from Turkey, Turkish troops fired over the frontier after rocket-propelled grenades and bullets landed on their territory, killing two Turkish citizens.
"Turkey is taking and will continue to take every precautionary step that is necessary to protect its citizens and its territory," said Ankara's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in a statement Friday.
The Kurdish fighters belong to the PYD party, which Turkey calls a "separatist terrorist organization."
According to Robert Lowe of the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics, Ankara fears PYD’s growing strength in Syria.
"They’ve always been hostile to the Kurdish population in Syria gaining or improving its position in that country," he said. "So they’re looking on with some concern, if not hostility, especially as the major Kurdish group in Syria is closely aligned to the PKK in Turkey, the largest, most powerful and armed force."
The fall of Ras al-Ain comes at a sensitive time as Ankara holds peace talks with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), says Fadi Hakura of policy institute Chatham House.
“Already the PKK issued what they called a final warning to Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey to take some concrete steps forward in the peace process or otherwise the engagement will grind to a halt," he said.
With bigger battles to fight elsewhere, Syrian government forces have given the Kurds a large degree of autonomy, but they are now being drawn in to battles over territory, says Lowe.
“There’s competition for control of those border crossings to Turkey and the access into Syria," he said. "There’s competition for control of some oilfields where some Kurds live in large numbers, and this is strongly opposed by Islamists.”
Opposition Kurdish groups claim Turkey is aiding Islamist groups in Syria such as the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, Hakura says that Ankara denies the charge.
“Many of the Islamist-based fighters in Syria happen to be in northern Syria," he said. "The only way that such Islamist fighters could enter into Syria is via the Turkish-Syria border."
Lowe says there will likely be more Islamist-Kurdish battles like that for Ras al-Ain.
"It’s possible for groups who have weapons to simply try and take control of a border post or of the smuggling networks to try and gain power and resources," he said. "So I fear that we’ll see an increase in these clashes."
Turkey has called on the United Nations to take action after violence spilled over its borders, saying the time for the Security Council to do its job is now.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: celik from: ca
July 20, 2013 10:52 AM
I guess its karma for turkey, 12 million kurds will be free.
In Response

by: Hawkar from: Southern Kurdistan
July 24, 2013 6:58 AM
20 million Kurds in Turkey, around 7 in Iraq, 5 million in Syria, and 8 in Iran. they all seek reunification!

by: Abdul Bahk from: Syria
July 19, 2013 5:59 PM
yeah... they should be worried... the day of reckoning is fast approaching for Turkey...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs