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

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies 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.
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