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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid