News / Europe

Syrian Kurds Want Iraqi Border Crossing Opened

Members of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) chat together as they stand in front of a base, that used to be for Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra, after capturing it from them in Al-Rmelan, Qamshli province, Nov. 11, 2013.
Members of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) chat together as they stand in front of a base, that used to be for Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra, after capturing it from them in Al-Rmelan, Qamshli province, Nov. 11, 2013.
Syrian Kurds are hoping the Iraqi government in Baghdad will open a border crossing they recently captured from al-Qaida-affiliated jihadists. Competing forces within Syria and social and political divides in neighboring Iraq and Turkey, however, are big obstacles.

Syrian Kurdish militiamen have been in control since October of the town of Yaroubiya on the Iraq border after seizing it from jihadist fighters. Now their leaders want Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to open the crossing to trade and aid.

Other border crossings from Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan into the Kurdish-dominated northeast of Syria are currently closed.

Maliki and Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani have clashed politically over the division of oil revenue between Baghdad and the autonomous Iraqi Kurdish area.

Competing interests

Barzani has gone along with a months-long embargo on the Syrian Kurds imposed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who disapproves of the Syrian Kurds’ aims to set up a semi-autonomous state in the northeast corner of Syria.

Turkey has long been battling Kurdish insurgency in its territory and fears Syria could become a haven for cross-border Kurdish attacks.

But the closing of the border crossings with both Turkey and Iraq’s Kurdistan has caused considerable hardship for the Syrian Kurds, said Kovan, an activist who has asked for his family name not to be used.

“The people are using what they have got, what they have already. Everything is getting so expensive,” said Kovan.

In recent months Kurdish militiamen have pushed jihadists out of key areas and are attempting to craft a mini-state in Syria’s northeast in territory abutting both Turkey and Iraq.

The leading Kurdish party in Syria, the Democratic Union Party [PYD] has announced intentions of conducting elections and establishing a provisional regional government.

Turkey tightens grip

Since the self-rule declaration, the Turks have tightened up on the border with Syria, making it harder and more dangerous to cross illegally. The dangers were underscored last month when three young Syrian Kurds were fatally shot by Turkish border guards. The Turks said they were smugglers.

Two of them were brothers, Amer Ahmed Abdullah, aged 29, and his 17-year-old sibling, Yaser. Their cousin, Ali Abdullah, said they weren’t smugglers and had been working in restaurants in southern Turkey.

“No work, there is no job here, so they went there to work, to get life, and to get money. They weren’t smugglers," said Abdullah. "They were only working in restaurant. They came back to visit their family and go back to Turkey again but they killed.”

Syria’s Kurds are depending on locally grown fruit and vegetables. Stores are thinly stocked when it comes to goods from outside and pharmacists are short of basic medicines, including antibiotics.

There are talks underway about allowing one of the border crossings with Turkey to be opened, but the Syrian army - and not the Kurds - control it.

PYD leader Saleh Muslim recently told a Kurdish TV station that he is pinning his hopes on Iraq's Maliki opening its border.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
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.

All About America

AppleAndroid