News / Middle East

Ankara Worried by Kurdish Gains in Syria, Observers Say

Kurdish Gains in Syria Prompt Fears in Turkeyi
X
July 19, 2013
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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
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.
AppleAndroid