News / Europe

Turkey's Support for Syrian Opposition Under Fire

Syrians cross back into Syria at the Turkish Cilvegozu border, opposite the Syrian commercial crossing point Bab al-Hawa, in Reyhanli, Hatay province, May 14, 2013.
Syrians cross back into Syria at the Turkish Cilvegozu border, opposite the Syrian commercial crossing point Bab al-Hawa, in Reyhanli, Hatay province, May 14, 2013.
Dorian Jones
The twin car bombings Saturday in the town of Reyhanli, near Turkey's border with Syria, killed 48 and injured more than 100, and have increased fears that Turkey is being dragged into Syria's civil war. The Turkish government is facing growing criticism for its support of the Syrian opposition.
 
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has emerged as one of the most vocal leaders in the region supporting the uprising against Syria's Bashar al-Assad.

But when the violence crossed over onto Turkish soil with this past weekend's bombings, public criticism of the Turkish government's involvement in the conflict next door became more vocal.

Cengiz Aktar, a political scientist at Istanbul's Bahcesehir University, says the bombings have increased public concern over the government's policy of supporting the Syrian rebels.

Story continues below photo gallery
  • This citizen journalism image provided by ENN shows black smoke rising from what rebels say is a helicopter that was shot down at Abu Dhour military airbase, Idlib, Syria, May 17, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army member prays next to the grave of a fellow fighter in a cemetery in Deir el-Zor, May 16, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army members sit in a room inside a house in Deir el-Zor, May 16, 2013.
  • Crews demolish one of the damaged buildings at the site of the May 11 blast, in Reyhanli, Hatay province, May 15, 2013.
  • Members of the Free Syrian Army help a wounded fellow fighter in Deir al-Zor, May 14, 2013.
  • This image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC shows the mother of a Syrian rebel cleaning a rifle, in Aleppo, May 14, 2013.
  • Syrians wait to cross back into Syria at the Turkish Cilvegozu border crossing in Reyhanli, Hatay province, May 14, 2013.
  • A view of the damaged Khalid ibn al Walid Mosque in Homs, Syria, May 14, 2013.
  • Syrian army soldiers inspect a house as they advance in on the village of Western Dumayna, near the rebel held city of Qusayr, May 13, 2013.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center shows the famed 12th century Umayyad mosque in Aleppo, which was damaged by shelling, May 13, 2013.

"No such bombing has ever happened in this soil of this country before. And many people see (it) as the indirect consequence of Turkey's Syria policy. I think what worries people is that Turkey can be dragged in(to) the conflict. And people are afraid that similar bombings may happen anywhere now in the country," Aktar said.

Following Saturday's bombings in Reyhanli, protests against the government were held in the Turkish border town of Antakya and the capital Ankara.

And, on Monday, the people of Reyhanli protested against the government.

Stung by the growing criticism, Prime Minister Erdogan defended his policy, warning the bombers' intention was to sow division.

The purpose of these attacks, he said, was to create "animosity and disorder" inside Turkey and place "question marks in the minds of my people."

Observers say it is unlikely Turkey's government will change its policy of supporting the Syrian opposition.

But public concern over the policy may restrict the government's options for retaliating against Damascus, says Sinan Ulgen, head of the Istanbul-based research institute Edam.

"I don't think there is public support at all towards a direct military confrontation with Syria. But when a bomb exploded at the Turkish-Syrian border, the reaction on the Turkish side had been to send special ops teams to go after the perpetrators of that attack, and those people were brought back to Turkey," Ulgen said.

When Syrian refugees first entered Turkey in 2011, they were largely well received. But attitudes have since soured.  In the aftermath of the Reyhanli attack, Syrian refugees in Turkey were reportedly attacked along with their cars and homes.

Analyst Ulgen says the violence indicates a worrying trend.

"What we have seen after the terrorist attack was an attack on Syrian refugees, which was held under control. But nonetheless there is a clear sign of tension in the provinces where those Syrian refugees are, between the local population and the Syrian refugees. So this is certainly an area of the concern, and the government must find ways managing this social tensions," Ulgen said.

Observers warn that, with Syrian refugees streaming over the border, tensions between refugees and local Turks are likely to grow. Meanwhile, Ankara has urged other nations to act against the Assad government.

On Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron reaffirmed their determination to achieve a negotiated solution to end Syria's civil war, through a hoped-for peace conference.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs