News / Middle East

    Seizure of Syrian Town Recalls Century-Old Turkish-Armenian Dispute

    FILE - A man lights candles during a religious service marking the anniversary of mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Empire in 1915 at an Armenian church in Tbilisi, Georgia.
    FILE - A man lights candles during a religious service marking the anniversary of mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Empire in 1915 at an Armenian church in Tbilisi, Georgia.
    Dorian Jones
    Syrian rebels recently overran Kassab, a town near the Turkish border inhabited by ethnic Armenians. That action has drawn attention to Turkey's relationship with radical Islamic factions in the Syrian conflict, and it has resurrected a century-old controversy.
     
    Ankara has faced mounting international criticism since Islamist fighters overran Kassab in late March. Many of the town's ethnic Armenian residents fled, charging that Ankara had supported the jihadists.  

    Turkey denies the charges, but some observers say whether or not they are true, it is paying a high price. All the more so, given that the attack on Kassab occurred on the eve of key anniversary - every April Armenians commemorate what they say was the killing in 1915 of more than one million of their people by Turkey’s then Ottoman rulers.

    Armenians are stepping up their drive for international recognition of those killings as genocide ahead of next year's 100th anniversary.

    Members of the Armenian diaspora community are leading the criticism of Turkey over the attack on Kassab, charging that Turkey facilitated it, or at least failed to use its influence to prevent it.  

    Ankara strongly rejects the charge that what happened in 1915 amounts to genocide, and disputes the number of deaths. But Sinan Ulgen, a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels, said the issue will not go away. He noted that a legislative proposal in France to make it illegal to deny that the 1915 killing of Armenians was genocide, while it was ultimately rejected by France's constitutional court, caused a major diplomatic uproar.

    "We see this constantly. The bill, which led to a big crisis between Turkey and France, is just one example," said Ulgen. "And now we are coming to 2015, the centennial of the 1915 events, and obviously Turkey will have to address that."

    Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has already compared the events in Kassab to those of 1915. Ankara is working to contain the damage, with state media broadcasting interviews with Armenians from Kassab who have taken refuge in Turkey.

    But Semih Idiz, a diplomatic columnist for the Turkish newspaper Taraf and the Al Monitor website, said Ankara has blundered.

    "I think it was a miscalculation, bringing up the whole Armenian issues, and it will also highlight the fact that Turkey is helping these extreme jihadist groups," said  Idiz. "So it will really be a question of how the situation is going to be managed and what actually happens in Kassab itself. Now if things get out of hand, it will reflect badly on Turkey."

    Ankara denies it is supporting groups like the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front, one of the militant Islamist factions in Syria. It also claims -- as do the Syrian rebels in Kassab -- the town's ethnic identity is being respected.

    With the Turkish government already facing growing criticism both nationally and internationally over its relations with jihadist groups in Syria, observers say the events in Kassab will add to the pressure on Ankara to review its strategy toward Syria.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: V73 from: Jordan
    April 11, 2014 11:42 AM
    VOA, let me tell you, so you can tell America, I am from Jordan, there is a big problem here with Syrian refugees. I can see already Palestinians agitating to kill Syrian refugees in Jordan. i don't think the Jordanian "government" can deal with this. Syrian refugees and Palestinians are about to kill each other. tell this to America. The traitors from AlJazeera will not tell this story. They know but they do nothing.
    In Response

    by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
    April 11, 2014 11:26 PM
    All Important Players of this dirty drama read this story and ready in front of God.Prepare your reply, but GOD will not accept false story. By the way I wish to inform you important players in this drama are Saudi Arabia,Israel,Qatar,Turkey, Jordan,USA and Nato.

    by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
    April 10, 2014 10:36 PM
    Turkey cannot scape about its dirty role in Syria crisis.Turkey hold so many important meeting in Ankara by World Terrorist group, just to please USA. Turkey hands full of human blood which they cannot deny.They financed, equiped terrorisit group and give them traiing how to kill human beings,rape and kill girls and woman. Every thing in the record, how much they involve in killing and destruction of Syria. The purpose of all this drama is to please USA and not GOD.

    by: ali baba from: new york
    April 10, 2014 5:29 PM
    turkey is involved in radical Muslim activities. they are involved in Syria . they are involved in Egypt. the west has to understand the double standard of Turkey. their application to join European union should be denied and it should dismiss from NATO

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora