News / Middle East

Ankara Worried by Kurdish Gains in Syria, Observers Say

Kurdish Gains in Syria Prompt Fears in Turkeyi
X
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 On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs