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July 25, 2012, Wednesday

Pandora’s box in Syria

With the Syrian crisis escalating and gaining new dimensions, new threats to Turkey have started to emerge. Many in Turkey are said to be alarmed by recent reports that Syrian Kurds have taken over a string of towns along the country’s border with Turkey. Turkish fears stem from the fact that the Syrian Kurds who are reportedly taking over some of the border cities mostly support the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Milliyet’s Sami Kohen sums up the recent developments in Syria with relation to Turkey and explains the four dangers awaiting us. The first is about border security: As the instability in Syria continues, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) will have to be more prepared for an attack.  The second danger Kohen mentions is the Kurdish control over many northern Syrian towns and cities, causing fears of these areas becoming new PKK headquarters.  The third is about the Syrian refugees in Turkey. Turkey has been welcoming Syrians who have fled from President Bashar al-Assad’s atrocities and placing them in well-equipped camps in its southern provinces. As the tension in Syria increases, the prospect of Turkey becoming the destination country for thousands more Syrians as well as clashes erupting among Syrian refugees in Turkey becomes higher.  Finally, the fourth danger awaiting Turkey as well as other neighboring countries is the possibility of chemical and biological weapons which Syria has. Briefly, Kohen says, looking at the point where the Syrian crisis has reached so far, it seems that Pandora’s box is about to be opened at any time.

Criticizing the discourse of “unexpected development” to describe the Kurdish Syrians’ advance in areas near the Turkish border, Radikal’s Cengiz Çandar says, “Why would Kurds seeking control of their own region be ‘unexpected’ when Kurds in Syria have specifically been supporting organizations such as the PYD, which is supported by the PKK?” Another criticism of his against Turkey’s policy towards dealing with the Kurdish issue is that it is impossible to resolve the Kurdish issue in Turkey or in Syria through Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani. This is because Barzani is not powerful enough to defeat the Kurdish political movement in Turkey, and what would he, a national Kurdish leader, say to the Syrian Kurds anyway? Is it that they should be content with fewer rights than they have back in northern Iraq? Will that sound convincing?

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