Turkey warns Syrian Kurds against 'dangerous' moves

ANKARA Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:07pm EDT

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara June 25, 2013. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara June 25, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Umit Bektas

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ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey urged Syrian Kurds on Friday not to establish a break-away entity in northern Syria by force, with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan warning against any "wrong and dangerous" moves that could hurt Turkish security.

The warning was issued at a meeting in Istanbul between Turkish intelligence officials and Saleh Muslim, head of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), whose militias have been fighting for greater autonomy for Kurdish parts of northern Syria.

Muslim said last week that Kurdish groups aimed to set up an independent council to run Kurdish regions in Syria until the civil war ended. That would alarm Ankara, which is wary of deepening sectarian violence on its border.

Turkey is trying to hold together a delicate peace process with Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants on its own soil and is worried that moves towards Kurdish autonomy in Syria could embolden them and jeopardize that process.

"Necessary warnings will be made to them that these steps they're taking are wrong and dangerous," Erdogan told reporters, as members of his National Intelligence Agency met Muslim.

Separately, a Turkish farmer was killed and his two sons were wounded on Friday when a mortar shell from fighting between Kurds and Islamist rebels in Syria hit their field near the border, officials at the local state hospital told Reuters.

The incident in the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar underscores fears that Syria's civil war, now in its third year, is dragging in neighboring states.

Last week Turkish troops returned fire and shot at PYD fighters after stray bullets from Syria killed a man and a 15-year-old boy in Ceylanpinar.


Turkey wants to extract assurances from the PYD that it will not threaten Turkey's security or seek an autonomous region in Syria through violence, and that it will maintain a stance of firm opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"We have three main expectations from Kurds in Syria. Firstly not to cooperate with the regime. When that happens, tensions between the Kurds and Arabs rise," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told the Radikal newspaper.

"Two is not to establish a de-facto entity ... based on ethnic and sectarian lines without consulting with other groups," he was quoted as saying. "If such an entity is established, then all the groups would attempt to do the same thing and a war would be unavoidable."

His third expectation was that Kurds did not engage in activities that would "endanger Turkey's border security".

Muslim's meeting with the Turkish intelligence agency comes after a surge in violence on the Syrian side of the border.

The PYD captured the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain last week after days of clashes with Islamist rebel fighters from the al-Qaeda linked Nusra Front.


Erdogan, who called a meeting of his military and intelligence chiefs as well as senior cabinet ministers on Wednesday to discuss the unrest, said they would come up with a plan soon to contain the violence.

"Our chief of staff, national intelligence agency and foreign ministry are working on this ... We will get together again and by discussing the developments over (the border) we will identify our steps and prepare a road map," he said.

Clashes between the PYD and rebels fighting Assad have flared since Kurds began asserting control over parts of northeast Syria from late last year. Turkish foreign ministry officials have met with the PYD twice over the past two months and have held "positive" discussions, a government source said.

The anti-Assad revolt has evolved from its origins as a peaceful protest movement in March 2011 into a civil war that has killed over 100,000 people and turned markedly sectarian.

Turkey has emerged as one of the strongest backers of the Syrian rebels, giving them shelter on its soil, but denies arming them. Along with its allies, Ankara has, however, tried to distance itself from hardline Islamist groups like Nusra.

"I view (their) behavior as a betrayal to the Syrian revolution," Davutoglu said, citing footage of killings and kidnappings carried out by radical groups.

"But we have always supported the legitimate Syrian opposition and we continue this support."

Syria's ethnic Kurdish minority has been alternately battling Assad's forces and the Islamist-dominated rebels. Kurds argue they support the revolt but rebels accuse them of making deals with the government in order to ensure their security and autonomy during the conflict.

Turkey meanwhile has been making gradual but fragile progress in its efforts to end a three-decade insurgency by the PKK in its southeast, a conflict which has killed some 40,000 people.

The PKK called a ceasefire this year but there has been a recent increase in militant activity and Kurdish politicians have voiced concern that the government has not been enacting promised reforms quickly enough.

(Additional reporting by Seyhmus Cakan and Ayla Jean Yackley; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Mike Collett-White)

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Comments (7)
XianSheng wrote:
With all due respect to the Turks, but you can’t blame the Kurds for seizing an opportunity for autonomy after being denied such opportunity for such a long time. Besides, these borders were artificially created by the previous colonial powers which never cared about ethnic entities their for centuries and simply created some random straight lined borders demarcating Syria, Jordan, Turkey, etc. Heck, if I were a Kurd, I’d grab autonomy now and talk with Turkey’s politicians later.

Jul 26, 2013 5:44pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
kurdstaat wrote:
The Turks and the State of Turkey are responsible for genocide and other crimes against humanity against the Armenians, Kurds and Greeks. The Turkish terrorists who have been running the State of Turkey since 1920, when the West recognized them as a State are criminals whether they are religious or not. The Europeans made a major mistake against the entire civilization by signing the Laussane agreement which recognized the occupied Aryan Kurdish territory as a part of the Turkish led Sate. History will judge the West ruthlessly as they recognized the genocide committing Turks to be the rulers of the Kurdish nation. The Turks are the descendants of the Mongol Hordes who are known in history to be the murdering, uncultivated, uncultured, savages.

The Turks not only have denied the fundamental human right of self-determination for Kurds, but also they are sadistically making every effort they can to make sure that the Kurds in Syria and Iraq also don’t achieve their right of self-determination.

The Turkish army backed by NATO is training Al-Nursra and Al-Qaeda to terrorize the Kurdish nation in Syria.

As if the Kurds in Syria have not suffered enough under the nationalist Arab rulers similar to Saddam Hussain, the Turks want to make sure that the future generations of the Kurdish nation will not achieve their fundamental human rights even in the future inside and outside the occupied Kurdish territory in the State of Turkey.

The Bathist nationalist Arab rulers of Syria have banned the Kurdish language and its public education, killed their intellectual elite, denied them the right of citizenship and committed genocide against them.

The Turks have banned the mentioning of the genocide they have committed against the Armenians and Kurds and you could be put in jail for it.

Public education in Kurdish language is banned under the Turkish constitution. The Kurds fear their entire existence and identity is under attack from the Turks and their State.

To mention a word in kurdish would have landed you in jail just a few years ago and the situation has not changed much since then.

It is a crime against humanity to have the Turkish constitution with their language to rule over the Kurdish nation.

In the Tukrish constitution it is a crime to insult Turkishness.

In the Turkish constitution it states that if you live in the Turkish State you are a Turk even though they know there are the Armenians and 25 million Kurds live in Turkey.

This does not even scratch the surface of Turkish crimes.

In the 1980′s and 90′s up to now the Turks are using the chemical weapons of mass destruction on the PKK and Kurdish civilians.

Torture and murder of the Kurdish elite is praised in Turkish government and culture.

The Turks are responsible for destroying 3000 Kurdish villages.

The Kurds under the oppression and genocidal activities of the Turks have formed the PKK to defend themselves and the Turks and their NATO allies and recognizers have put the label of terrorist on them.

The Turks are responsible for force removal of hundreds of thousands of Kurds and Armenians.

This clown figure, Ardogan, the footbalist, has forgotten that the entire Turkish State is built upon genocide and crimes against humanity.

Liberate Kurdstaatn.
Recognize the Kurdish State.

Jul 26, 2013 9:33pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
medbd wrote:
It is very clear Turkey dont whant peace for kurds.

Jul 26, 2013 12:27am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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