News / Middle East

Turkey Warns Syrian Kurds Against 'Dangerous' Moves

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at funeral for Serafettin Elci, a prominent Turkish Kurdish politician and former minister, Ankara, Dec. 26, 2012.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at funeral for Serafettin Elci, a prominent Turkish Kurdish politician and former minister, Ankara, Dec. 26, 2012.
Reuters
Turkey urged Syrian Kurds on Friday not to establish a breakaway entity in northern Syria by force, with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan warning against any "wrong and dangerous" moves that could hurt Turkish security.
 
The warning was issued at a meeting in Istanbul between Turkish intelligence officials and Saleh Muslim, head of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), whose militias have been fighting for greater autonomy for Kurdish parts of northern Syria.
 
Syria deaths from conflict, updated July 26, 2013.Syria deaths from conflict, updated July 26, 2013.
x
Syria deaths from conflict, updated July 26, 2013.
Syria deaths from conflict, updated July 26, 2013.
Muslim said last week that Kurdish groups aimed to set up an independent council to run Kurdish regions in Syria until the civil war ended. That would alarm Ankara, which is wary of deepening sectarian violence on its border.
 
Turkey is trying to hold together a delicate peace process with Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants on its own soil and is worried that moves towards Kurdish autonomy in Syria could embolden them and jeopardize that process.
 
"Necessary warnings will be made to them that these steps they're taking are wrong and dangerous," Erdogan told reporters, as members of his National Intelligence Agency met Muslim.
 
Turkey wants to extract assurances from the PYD that it will not threaten Turkey's security or seek an autonomous region in Syria through violence, and that it will maintain a stance of firm opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
 
"We have three main expectations from Kurds in Syria. Firstly not to cooperate with the regime: When that happens, tensions between the Kurds and Arabs rise," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told the Radikal newspaper.
 
"Two is not to establish a de-facto entity ... based on ethnic and sectarian lines without consulting with other groups," he was quoted as saying. "If such an entity is established, then all the groups would attempt to do the same thing and a war would be unavoidable."
 
His third expectation was that Kurds not engage in activities that would "endanger Turkey's border security."
 
Muslim's meeting with the Turkish intelligence agency comes after a surge in violence on the Syrian side of the border.
 
The PYD captured the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain last week after days of clashes with Islamist rebel fighters from the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.
 
Turkish troops shot at PYD fighters during the battles after two rocket-propelled grenades struck a border post on the Turkish side. Two civilians died when stray bullets hit the Turkish town of Ceylanpinar, adjacent to Ras al-Ain.
 
Road map

Erdogan, who called a meeting of his military and intelligence chiefs as well as senior cabinet ministers on Wednesday to discuss the unrest, said they would come up with a road map soon to contain the violence.
 
"Our chief of staff, national intelligence agency and foreign ministry are working on this ... We will get together again and by discussing the developments over [the border] we will identify our steps and prepare a road map," he said.
 
Clashes between the PYD and rebels fighting Assad have flared since Kurds began asserting control over parts of northeast Syria from late last year. Turkish foreign ministry officials have met with the PYD twice over the past two months and have held "positive" discussions, a government source said.
 
The anti-Assad revolt has evolved from its origins as a peaceful protest movement in March 2011 into a civil war that has killed over 100,000 people and turned markedly sectarian.
 
Turkey has emerged as one of the strongest backers of the Syrian rebels, giving them shelter on its soil, but denies arming them. Along with its allies, Ankara has, however, tried to distance itself from hardline Islamist groups like Nusra.
 
"I view [their] behavior as a betrayal to the Syrian revolution," Davutoglu said, citing footage of killings and kidnappings carried out by radical groups.
 
"But we have always supported the legitimate Syrian opposition and we continue this support."
 
Syria's ethnic Kurdish minority has been alternately battling Assad's forces and the Islamist-dominated rebels. Kurds argue they support the revolt but rebels accuse them of making deals with the government in order to ensure their security and autonomy during the conflict.
 
Turkey meanwhile has been making gradual but fragile progress in its efforts to end a three-decade insurgency by the PKK in its southeast, a conflict which has killed some 40,000 people.
 
The PKK called a ceasefire this year but there has been a recent increase in militant activity and Kurdish politicians have voiced concern that the government has not been enacting promised reforms quickly enough.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Secret Service Head: White House Security Lapse 'Unacceptable'

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid