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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More