News

Turkey Concerned at Growing Number of Syrian Refugees

Syrian refugee Nizar Hajyousuf speaks in Yayladagi, Turkey about about violence in his Syrian hometown, Jisr Ash Shugur, Mar 12, 2012.
Syrian refugee Nizar Hajyousuf speaks in Yayladagi, Turkey about about violence in his Syrian hometown, Jisr Ash Shugur, Mar 12, 2012.
Dorian Jones

Syrian refugees have crossed into Turkey in growing numbers in recent days, frightened by a government assault on the northern Syrian city of Idlib, near the border with Turkey. The latest influx of refugees has led to growing unease in Ankara.

Hundreds of refugees fleeing the fighting in Syria have crossed into Turkey since Saturday, when Syrian forces launched an assault on the opposition stronghold of Idlib. Sinan Ulgen, head of the international relations think tank EDAM, says the Turkish government is wary.

"In 1991, when Saddam had started to massacre his Kurdish population, Turkey ended being host to 550,000 Kurds in a few days. That still remains on the consciousness of Turkish policymakers and there have been a number of lessons drawn from that," Ulgen said.

Ankara says Syrians fleeing the fighting are welcome. According to Turkish officials, Turkey is hosting some 12,000 refugees.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal says they are prepared for any development. "Of course, Turkey is ready for any kind of eventuality, if the crisis is getting to worse situation. But on that, we will continue monitoring the situation on a continuous basis," Unal said.

But the government says it will not stand by if it is faced by a major exodus from Syria. An international relations expert for the Turkish newspaper Haberturk, Soli Ozel, says that is not an empty threat, but says Turkey does not want to act alone.

"Should there be a massive influx of refugees, Turkey would create a security zone inside (Syria), and absolutely wants the cover of some kind of international legitimacy. But for a Kosovo-type intervention, the only way plausible is for NATO to be engaged. And NATO does not even want to talk about it," Ozel said.

Ankara has been frustrated by what it sees as the failure of the United Nations Security Council to take a stronger stand against Damascus, due to vetoes by both China and Russia.

Turkey is currently working hard to build an international coalition against Syria's ongoing crackdown and is strongly backing the "Friends of Syria," a forum of around 70 countries supporting the Syrian opposition. Later this month, Turkey is to host a meeting of the group in Istanbul.

Last week, Turkish President Abdullah Gul visited Tunisia to build up support for a regional diplomatic solution to the crisis.

He said Turkey and Tunisia are opposed to arming the opposition and to foreign military intervention, which he said would worsen the situation in Syria. However, he said Tunis and Ankara are ready to contribute to an Arab League peacekeeping force in Syria.

But the failure of U.N. special representative Kofi Annan to secure a cease-fire in Syria after his visit to Damascus Saturday and Sunday dealt another blow to hopes of a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

Following Annan's visit, Syrian forces are reported to have stepped up their crackdown on opposition groups close to the Turkish border, after quelling the opposition in the city of Homs.

Annan is due to meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan late Monday. But with the fighting moving closer to Turkish territory and with the growing threat of a major influx of refugees, international relations expert Ozel warns Ankara's hand could be forced into an intervention.

"Turkey will try [to] avoid it as much as it can. But it may prove impossible. You are being drawn to things rather [than] controlling the direction [in which] things are moving," Ozel said.

Syrian forces are increasing their presence on the Turkish border and according to reports, even mining the border area. It is, as a result, becoming increasingly difficult for Syrian refugees to escape into Turkey.

For now, the numbers of refugees seeking sanctuary in Turkey remains manageable. But observers say Ankara is aware that with the crisis deepening in Syria, a humanitarian crisis on its border could become all too real.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

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