Turkey: Syrian conflict impact

Turkish village mourns family killed by Syrian mortars

AKCAKALE, TURKEY // The first shell that hit landed on a grain dispensary in the late afternoon. The second injured a policeman. Soon after, a third hit, killing five members of a family.

The National, October 5, 2012

Syria’s war threatens to engulf Turkish border towns

HACIPASA, Turkey // “We are afraid, but where do we go?” said Abdul Fatah, 80, who lives in a Turkish town directly on the border with Syria.

As he speaks, the sound of explosions and machine gunfire could be heard a short distance away where a fierce battle was being fought between rebels and forces loyal to the Syrian president, Bashar Al Assad.

The National, October 15, 2012

Syrian refugees on Turkish border offer respite for rebels

NISRIN, Turkey // A fighter from the Free Syrian Army sauntered into the front yard of a run-down home on the Turkey-Syria border where his friends, three families of Syrian refugees, were living. Wearing a black shirt and camouflage trousers, he was on a mission: to wash his laundry.

The National, July 18, 2012

Turkey’s Antakya a refuge for Syrians

ANTAKYA, TUKREY // Before the uprising against the government of the Syrian president, Bashar Al Assad, hundreds of carloads of shoppers used to cross the border each weekend to shop in the sprawling bazaar of the ancient Turkish city of Antakya, also known as Antioch.

Syrians still arrive here daily in the hundreds – but they no longer come to buy clothes and housewares. They come instead for weapons and, as in Raed’s case, for medical care.

The National, August 7, 2012

Turkey’s Men in Syria

ISTANBUL — Two years ago, a largely unknown Turkish aid organization found itself in the middle of a showdown between the Middle East’s most powerful countries. The Humanitarian Relief Foundation, known by the acronym IHH, had sponsored a flotilla intent on breaching the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza to deliver aid and construction materials. As the ships approached Gaza, Israeli commandoes stormed the MV Mavi Marmara, the largest vessel in the flotilla, and in the ensuing struggle killed nine activists, most of whom were connected to IHH. The raid caused a rupture in the Israeli-Turkish relationship, one that lingers to this day: Ankara still refuses to normalize ties with the Jewish state until it issues an apology for the attack.

The flotilla raid also showed how the fates of the Turkish government and IHH were intertwined. Turkey’s popularity in the Arab world soared in the wake of the standoff, while IHH, which is allegedly close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), received strong financial support following the crisis from grassroots donors.

Now, Ankara and IHH are working together again — this time in war-wracked Syria. IHH is one of the few international or domestic aid organizations allowed by the Turkish government to provide humanitarian services to the approximately 80,000 Syrian refugees registered in the country and, also, officially cross the border into Syria.

Foreign Policy, September 18, 2012

Turkey weighs options for dealing with Syria

ISTANBUL — When Syrian forces shot down a Turkish reconnaissance jet last month, Turkey vowed to take “necessary steps” and its prime minister declared Syria a “clear and present danger.”

Turkey reinforced its 550-mile-long border with Syria and declared new rules of engagement at the frontier. News media began running images of tanks, long-range weapons and troops being sent to the border.

The incident underscored the deteriorating relationship between the two neighbors as Syria’s internal conflict threatens to spill over its borders. But while Turkey has made clear that it wants Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gone, analysts say that Ankara is still a long way from turning angry rhetoric into action.

The Washington Post, July 2, 2012


Riots in Turkish refugee camps after Syrian duo are sent back

Hundreds of Syrian refugees in Turkey have rioted after two fellow asylum-seekers were spirited back to Syria in mysterious circumstances.

Turkish officials claimed the men were sent back after a “mistake in translation” made authorities believe they were economic migrants rather than refugees fleeing repression..

The Independent, December 7, 2011

Syrians in Turkey eye uncertain future

Issa – who did not wish to give his full name for fear of reprisals against himself or his family – arrived in Istanbul in August having fled Syria after attending three opposition demonstrations in Damascus and transporting an injured protester to safety after he was hit by a tear gas canister.

Issa, who had previously worked as an Arabic teacher for foreigners in Damascus said there was no longer any work in Syria with the exodus of foreign language students.

After searching for employment in Turkey’s vast unofficial economy, he eventually began to build up a pool of students to teach Arabic and rented a room in Istanbul.

The Daily Star, December 8, 2011

Syria’s civil war spills into Turkey after two deadly car bombs

Syria’s civil war spilt over into southern Turkey on Saturday when two car bombs exploded in the heart of the border town of Reyhanli, killing at least 40 people. It was the bloodiest incident on Turkish soil since the start of Syria’s uprising in 2011.

While stopping short of a blunt accusation, the government pointed the finger at President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

“With their secret services and armed groups, they are certainly one of the usual suspects to instigate and carry out such an outrageous plot,” said Bulent Arinc, the Turkish deputy prime minister.

The Telegraph, May 11, 2013

Bombings raise fresh suspicions about scope of Syria’s spy activities in Turkey

ISTANBUL // The twin car bombing that killed 46 people in a Turkish town over the weekend raised fresh suspicions about the scope of Syrian regime spy activities in southern Turkey.

The National, May 13, 2013

Turkey: Protests Can’t Alter Ankara’s Syria Policy

Turkey’s support for rebels in neighboring Syria is helping to fuel anti-government protests that continue to unsettle the country. But analysts say the demonstrations aren’t about to prompt Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government to alter its policy on the Syrian conflict.

Since the end of 2011, areas of southern Turkey have served as a logistical “rear base” for the rebels to rest, resupply and organize. Turkey also hosts about 400,000 Syrian refugees, living both in camps provided by the government and in private housing. At least 40,000 more are camped just along the border, apparently believing that proximity to Turkey affords them some protection. The Turkish government has spent more than $1 billion in humanitarian aid for Syrians, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

EurasiaNet, July 17, 2013

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