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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.