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

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora