News / Middle East

Moves by Syrian Kurds Worry Turkey

Syrian Kurds rally against Syrian President Assad in city of Qamishli (March 2012 photo)Syrian Kurds rally against Syrian President Assad in city of Qamishli (March 2012 photo)
x
Syrian Kurds rally against Syrian President Assad in city of Qamishli (March 2012 photo)
Syrian Kurds rally against Syrian President Assad in city of Qamishli (March 2012 photo)
Dorian Jones
ISTANBUL — In Syria, the seizing of control by Syrian Kurds of towns close to the Turkish border has raised concerns in the Turkish capital, Ankara. Turkish authorities say Syrian Kurds might seek to create their own autonomous state, fueling similar demands from Turkey's Kurdish minority.

News of Syrian Kurds taking control of towns from forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has raised concerns in Ankara, according to defense correspondent Metehan Demir of the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.  He says long-standing Turkish fears of the creation of an independent Kurdish state have resurfaced.

"It's perceived as a signal of a future autonomous area in this region, just next to the Turkish border.  This is second piece of a four piece puzzle on the way to a Kurdistan country.  Because one part is happening in northern Iraq, [a] second part is in Syria, east Kurdistan is [in] Iran and Northern Kurdistan as known according to their dreams is [the] Turkish part," Demir said.

Ankara has been fighting a decades-long insurgency by the PKK, which wants greater Kurdish rights in Turkey.  Many PKK members are Syrian Kurds.

According to international relations expert Soli Ozel of Istanbul's Kadir Has University, the main concern of the Turkish government is that the success of Syrian Kurds could fuel Turkey's Kurdish insurgency.

"Since our Kurdish problem has not been solved, and we are not near to bringing to a conclusion, the prime minister will be concerned that there will be a fallout from what is going on in Syria, especially because in Syria the PKK-affiliated party appears to be the strong political force," Ozel said.

In recent years, Ankara has developed strong ties with the leadership of the semiautonomous Iraqi Kurdish regional government.  That relationship is built on burgeoning border trade.  Sinan Ulgen of the EDAM research institute says Ankara will be looking to Iraqi Kurdish regional leader Masoud Barzani to temper the actions of Syrian Kurds.

"Turkey [is] relying on political leadership of the Iraqi Kurds, in particular Barzani, to establish a relationship with the Syrian Kurds themselves.  And because of the success of this policy of engagement with the Iraqi Kurds since 2008, this is the favored scenario in Ankara," Ulgen said.

Ulgen acknowledges that Barzani has limited influence over the PKK and its affiliates in Syria.  And some questions are being raised in Turkey about Barzani's reliability as an ally.  Hundreds of Syrian Kurds who have sought refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan reportedly are returning to Syria with the support of Iraqi Kurds.

"It was Barzani who actually brought all the Syrian Kurdish opposition together, and they came up with a pact and then everything unfolded since then.  So I really don't think the things happening in Syria are happening without his knowledge or consent," Ozel said.

If Turkish diplomatic efforts fail to prevent PKK control in the Syrian Kurdish region, analyst Ulgen does not rule out Ankara pursuing a military solution.

"On the more hawkish attitudes of intervention in order to undermine the PKK stranglehold in this region, which is something Turkey did do in the past with regard to northern Iraq.  Now that certainly is one scenario if the PKK starts to establish in the Kurdish region of northern Syria," Ulgen said.

Turkish military forces have been reinforced along the border with Syria's Kurdish region.  Analysts say that although Ankara will be wary of any military operation, Turkey will be closely monitoring the actions of the Syrian Kurds.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: nur from: aus
August 05, 2012 11:37 AM
It is easy to watch from afar and comment, PKK is a rebel terorist group who kills civilians, many a children women men, innocent individuals have died at thier hands. A previous comment talks about Islam, the PKK have nothing to do with it, thier soldiers are not Martyr, they fight against thier own muslim brothers and sisters. Be mindful I am saying PKK and not Kurds. Turkey has withstood so much in its history, the Calife used to be in Istanbul during the rule of the Ottomon Empire, not until the Turkish Cumhurriyet was formed did we give up that title; otherwise, Turkey and Turkish people are the true holders of the calife and representative of Islam. The works of Said Nursi, who was a Kurd should be enough of an evidence as to the sibling relations between Turks and Kurds. The tolerance Turkey has shown Kurds is not seen anywhere around the world. I am not a kemalist, I loathe him and his laws. I believe in tolerance from both sides. All Turkey wants is to live side by side with Kurds as equals, brothers ans sisters; however, if they insist on creating thier own state and splitting Turkey, if it comes to that, so be it, but as history has shown time and time again, they will fail just as the arab nations have after stabbing the Ottomon Empire in the back. 100 years later Turkey is standing stong and getting stronger, may Allah protect the Turks and all Muslim brother and sisters


by: ADEL ALSHEAR from: STOCKHOLM SWDEN
July 28, 2012 4:20 AM
THIS IS ANTI DISCIM KRDI . THIS IS ANTI KRDI DICRIM . THI S IS ANTI DISCRIM IN KRD. THI S IS ANTI KRD DISCRIM .THIS IS ANTI DISCRIM IN KRD .


by: Malek Towghi (Baloch) from: USA
July 27, 2012 1:48 AM
The only unintended positive result of our intervention in Iraq was the emergence and strengthening of an Autonomous Kurdistan north of Iraq. Now that the same has happened, unwittingly, in Syria-occupied Kurdistan, it is our moral duty to help the Syrian Kurds maintain their self-rule and autonomy regardless of the results of the ongoing Syrian crisis. It is also in our national interest. The KURDS like their ethnic cousins, the BALUCH / the BALOCH, are least infected by anti-West religious obscurantism and chauvinist nationalism -- and are the only Muslim people in those fanaticism-ridden regions who can be our sincere and dependable friends. The civilized world particularly the West should not abandon the Kurds and the Baloch in this 21st century the way they shamelessly abandoned the Armenians in last century. Dr. Malek Towghi, Liaison, Baloch Human Rights International


by: Coleen from: Germany
July 26, 2012 11:30 PM
yes Maria, it has been in the news here. Beautiful!!! AC/DC so funny...!!! they said that it was a US/Isarel operation... i wish Germany would have participated also... but we have becomed cowards here... these US/Israel guys are some of the most brilliant minds in the world


by: khan
July 26, 2012 7:22 PM
turk is haunting his own action, will be continues to his country by PKK after Al Qaeda action finish in Syria


by: Maria from: Germany
July 26, 2012 3:52 PM
hey guys... has anyone heard of the AC/DC worm that attacked Iran nuclear facilities??? that is hilarious... Israel - God, these guys are unbelievable!!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid