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

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs