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

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
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 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 Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
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 Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
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 Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
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.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs