The Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), a terrorist group that has been largely inactive for the past decades, has threatened Turkey with unspecified measures over its Syria policy.
“Any military adventurism or any direct or indirect violation of the security and the social cohesion of the Armenian community of Syria on the part of Turkey will be met by similar counter-measures,” the group said in a statement on Monday.
ASALA is known for terrorist attacks against Turkish targets in Turkey and a number of countries throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The leftist group is responsible for the deaths of more than 40 Turkish diplomats abroad and has been mostly inactive since 1985.
The ASALA statement did not elaborate on measures against Turkey, which it said has turned into a “threat” for the stability in the region.
“The aggressive policy against Iraq's integrity, the direct military intervention in the bloody crisis of Syria, the continuation for more than 20 years of the blockade imposed on Armenia, the conspiratorial and double-faced policy towards Iran, the non-stopping threats against the territorial integrity of Greece and Cyprus and the augmenting coercive measures against the Kurdish people have transformed Turkey into a center of danger for the stability of the region,” it said. “The conspiratorial and hostile policy of the Turkish state against the neighboring countries reached its peak and has led Turkey in a total isolation in the whole region.”
Turkey, once a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is now one of his staunchest critics. Turkey has also been hosting the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) that is seeking to topple the Assad regime and the political wing of the opposition, the Syrian National Council.
About 2,000 Syrian Armenians have reportedly fled to Armenia to escape from the violence besetting Syria since the opposition groups began the revolt to topple Assad 17 months ago. Syria's Armenian community, estimated to number 60,000, is apprehensive about the collapse of the regime, due to uncertainties as to how the opposition will treat the issue of the rights of minorities and given their loyalty to the current secular regime.
The ASALA statement accused the Turkish government of “cherishing dreams of a revival of the bloodthirsty Ottoman regime” and said: “We express our solidarity to all the peoples of the area and we declare that the Arab people will decide its destiny and shape its future all alone without the crocodilian tears and hypocritical care of the Turkish ruling circles.”
Turkey and Armenia have no diplomatic ties and their mutual border has been closed since 1993. Turkey closed the border in protest of the Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan. An initiative in 2009 to normalize bilateral relations failed after Turkey said normalization depends on resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The two countries are also at loggerheads due to a dispute over history. Armenia claims 1.5 million Armenians were killed in a systematic genocide campaign in eastern Anatolia during the final years of the Ottoman Empire, a claim Turkey categorically denies.