News / Middle East

Turkey Alarmed at Syrian Border Fighting

FILE - Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu FILE - Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
x
FILE - Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
FILE - Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
Dorian Jones
Turkey's foreign minister has voiced concern over the spillover of violence from the war in neighboring Syria and called again on the United Nations Security Council to act. The latest alarm stems from fighting near the border between Syrian Kurds and Islamist fighters of the al-Nusra Front. A pro-Kurdish party in Turkey says Ankara's support for Islamist rebels in Syria is a factor in the violence.

Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party has accused the Turkish government of supporting the al-Nusra Front, an Islamist faction among the rebels battling to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The party's accusation follows the eruption of fighting between al-Nusra fighters and Syrian Kurds of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, or PYD. Ankara says stray gunfire from that fighting killed two of its citizens in the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar Tuesday.

Ertugrul Kurkcu, a parliamentary deputy for the BDP, suggests Turkey might have involvement behind the violence in the adjacent Syrian town of Ras al-Ain.

"It's obvious Turkey would be happy for a weaker Kurdish administration in Syria, therefore I think there is a tactical infringement in this new phase of clashes in [the] Syrian Kurdish area," Kurkcu said.

The PYD factor

The PYD controls a large swath of northeastern Syria bordering Turkey, after Syrian government forces withdrew last year. Ankara accuses the Syrian Kurdish party of being affiliated with the PKK, which has fought the Turkish state for greater Kurdish rights for three decades, although the two sides are now involved in tentative peace efforts.

Political observers say Turkish suspicions of the PYD have been heightened by a recent declaration that it was planning to declare autonomy in the areas of Syria it controls.  However a senior Turkish diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, denied that Ankara was supporting al-Nusra and said the only support Turkey is giving is to the broad opposition Syrian National Coalition.

Diplomatic columnist Semih Idiz for the Turkish newspaper Taraf says such a denial is questionable, especially in the light of the latest clashes.

"Ankara made a statement saying it's premature to criticize this group [al-Nusra]. It suggested this group was one of the most effective groups, so it's not unlikely they might be getting support. Now whether this support is in the form of weapons that I don't know, but it could be logistic support," Idiz said. "There are already rumors that fighters in this latest incident were brought into hospitals in Turkey. In fact the locals reacted angrily to this."

Turkish forces have strengthened their presence on the Syrian border near where the fighting was taking place.

Call for intervention

Late Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu voiced alarm at the situation and reiterated his call for international intervention. He said it shows the extent to which the crisis in Syria can affect Turkish citizens and Turkey, and that this is the moment for the U.N. Security Council to act.

But observers say any intervention by the U.N. is unlikely.

Sinan Ulgen, head of the Istanbul-based research institute Edam, says the clashes between al-Nusra and the Syrian Kurds could get worse.

"It can certainly unravel in a more significant way, essentially because there is a power vacuum and there is no willingness from the outside actors to intervene and to establish limits," Ulgen said. "There is a definitively a scenario where we would see these kind of situations unfolding in a bigger way."

The Turkish government is said to be trying to come up with a new strategy to face the prospect of growing border instability stemming from the Syrian conflict. But analysts caution that because of Turkey's own large and restive Kurdish minority, any policy aimed at the Syrian Kurds will likely have domestic implications.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ebola Lockdown May Be Extended

Lockdown, which started Friday, aims to allow health workers to locate hidden Ebola patients, educate others on how to avoid the deadly disease More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid