Turkey says Syria's Assad supplying arms
to Turkish Kurd rebels
August 9, 2012
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu leaves
after a meeting with unseen Myanmar Muslim leader
Muhammed Yunus during a meeting in Ankara on July
30, 2012 Photo: Getty Images •
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ISTANBUL,— Turkey's foreign minister
accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of arming a
Kurdish militant group that has fought the Turkish
state for decades, potentially exacerbating a
conflict which has killed more than 40,000 people.
Clashes between the Turkish army and Kurdistan
Workers Party (PKK) militants have intensified in
recent weeks east of the border with Syria in
southeast Turkey. Ankara is concerned the PKK is
exploiting the chaos in Syria to expand its
On Thursday suspected PKK militants
ambushed a Turkish military bus in
the western province of Izmir, killing a soldier and
wounding at least 11 others.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Turkish media
while travelling to Myanmar overnight that Assad had
given weapons to the PKK, which has established a
presence in the Kurdish towns of Kobane and Afrin in
Syrian Kurdistan in northern Syria.
"Assad gave them weapons support. Yes - this is not
a fantasy. It is true. We have taken necessary
measures against this threat," news websites
reported the minister as saying.
There was no immediate comment from Damascus. In an
interview with a Turkish newspaper at the start of
July, Assad denied that Syria had allowed the PKK to
operate on Syrian territory close to the Turkish
Davutoglu's comments spelled out allegations
previously made by lower-ranking Turkish officials.
Turkey suspects a major Syrian Kurdish movement, the
Democratic Union Party (PYD), of having links with
the PKK. Turkish analysts believe Assad let the PYD
take control of security of some Kurdish towns in
western Kurdistan (northern Syria) to prevent locals
from joining the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA).
Relations between Ankara and Damascus have
deteriorated to lows unimaginable just a few years
ago, when Turkey cultivated "good neighbourly
relations" with Assad,www.ekurd.net
easing border controls and taking part in joint
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is now one of
Assad's harshest critics and has raised the
possibility of military intervention in Syria if the
PKK becomes a threat there.
Military defectors have set up FSA bases in southern
Turkey, and some are trained and coordinated by
Turkish, Qatari and Saudi officers operating from a
secret "nerve centre" near the city of Adana, Gulf
sources have told Reuters.
Davutoglu, the architect of Turkey's now defunct
good neighbours policy, dismissed criticism that
Turkey was unprepared for the situation in northern
"There is unnecessary panic. You can be sure we
anticipated all this ... Turkey's power to influence
in Syria has not been weakened in any place or in
any incident," he said.
Asked about the growing influence of the PYD,
Davutoglu said: "They are hoping to take advantage
if Assad goes and there is a (power) vacuum. But
they will not succeed."
The issue of granting autonomy to any region should
only be considered once a new parliament has been
elected, he said.
"But if an armed group gains control of a place
before the people have elected a parliament, another
armed group can take control of another place. This
is what we don't want to see."
The PYD has warned Turkey not to interfere in the
region and said it has nothing to fear.
In 1998, Ankara came close to war with Assad's
father, then-President Hafez al-Assad, over the
presence of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in Damascus
and alleged Syrian support for PKK activities in
western Kurdistan (northeastern Syria).
Hafez al-Assad took the threat seriously enough to
evict Ocalan - who was shortly afterwards captured
in Kenya by Turkish forces with probable U.S.
support. Ocalan is serving a life sentence in an
island prison south of Istanbul.
The PKK has several times proposed peaceful solutions regarding Kurdish problem,
Turkey has always refused saying that it will not negotiate with “terrorists”.
Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been fighting the Turkish state,
which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish
state in the south east of the country.
But now its aim is the creation an autonomous region and more cultural rights
for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more
than 20 million.
A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK
The PKK wants constitutional recognition for the Kurds, regional
self-governance and Kurdish-language education in schools.
PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in
Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey,
reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action
against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.
Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population
as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural
rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish
language and private Kurdish language courses with
the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish
politicians say the measures fall short of their
The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by
Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the
blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which
overturned a decision
to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its
political wing on the European Union's terror list.
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