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

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer 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.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
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 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 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 US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
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 Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs