News / Middle East

Turkey Struggles to Contain Fallout of Syrian Conflict

Turkey Struggles to Contain Fallout of Worsening Syrian Conflicti
X
December 25, 2012 5:12 PM
As the Syria conflict grinds on, neighboring Turkey is struggling to deal with the multiple threats of a refugee crisis and a resurgence in Kurdish militant activity sparked by the Syrian uprising. VOA's Henry Ridgwell visited the Turkey-Syria border in recent months and looks back on a year of Turkish-Syria tensions.

Turkey Struggles to Contain Fallout of Worsening Syrian Conflict

Henry Ridgwell
— As the Syria conflict grinds on, neighboring Turkey is struggling to deal with the multiple threats of a refugee crisis and a resurgence in Kurdish militant activity sparked by the Syrian uprising.

The centuries-old bazaar in the Turkish border city of Antakya is a trading point along the ancient Silk Road and for millennia has been a center of religion and sectarian conflict.

The city lies just a few kilometers from Syria and has become the Turkish headquarters for rebels of the Free Syria Army who are trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

It is most evident in the border province of Hatay that Turkey is being pulled ever deeper into Syria's conflict.

In Antakya earlier this year, VOA interviewed Ahmad Al-Kanatre Abu Hamza, the commander of the Omar al-Mukhtar brigade of the Free Syria Army.

He says the rebels need international help for a no-fly zone because Assad's jets are firing on unarmed people and targeting anything that moves.

President Assad's jets and helicopters are still firing on Syrian towns and villages.

In October, Turkey fired shells into Syria for six days in a row, in response to Syrian artillery falling in Hatay province.

Fadi Hakura, a Turkey expert at Chatham House in London, says Ankara has overplayed its diplomatic hand. "It exaggerated its influence vis-à-vis Bashar al-Assad, the President of Syria.  The Turkish leadership also assumed that Bashar al Assad will collapse quickly and that did not happen," he said. "So what we see now in Syria is a protracted sectarian civil war, very destructive, and that's a scenario that Turkey did not plan for."

The consequences of that destruction are spilling into Turkey; the daily flow of refugees has on occasion exceeded 2,000.  Most are housed in sprawling camps where the tough conditions are made worse with the onset of winter.

Ankara has called for the international community to do more to help.

"At the present time it might be even 150,000 or approaching 200,000 refugees. And Turkey is not in a position to establish a buffer zone on the Syrian side of the border without the approval and coordination of Washington," stated Hakura.

Meanwhile the Syrian conflict has re-ignited Turkey's long-standing battle with Kurdish militants, known as the PKK.

Syrian Kurds now control a larger swathe of northern Syria after government forces withdrew.

Robert Lowe is manager of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics. "For the Turkish state, the development of what is becoming an autonomous region for Kurds in northern Syria is very troubling. It's deeply unwelcome to them and I don't think they've been terribly sure how to respond. And they are very worried that that will strengthen the PKK in its fight against the Turkish state," he noted.

Lowe says the Syrian civil war is  not only dragging in Turkey but also neighboring Lebanon -- which has witnessed an upsurge in violence along sectarian lines -- and regional powers Iraq, Iran and the Gulf states.

"For Syrians the huge worry is that outside powers become even more involved and their own struggles are played out on Syrian soil," said Lowe.

While Syrian rebels appear to be making gains in some areas, analysts say neither side appears strong enough to tip the balance of the conflict. They predict events in 2013 are likely to take a growing toll on the Syrian people.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid