WASHINGTON – The Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad has begun to unleash the Kurds inside Turkey, where there has been an uptick of Kurdish rebel attacks killing Turkish government troops, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Kurds constitute an important minority in Syria and for years have sought autonomy in northern Syria to create an independent Kurdistan along with the Kurds in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq and Iran.
The Kurds also are a large minority in Turkey and now the country is on alert for attacks from Kurdish rebels, called the Kurdish Workers’ Party, or PKK. Turkey says those attacks are happening at the instigation of Iran and Syria.
Because Turkey backs the overthrow of the al-Assad regime, both Syria and its ally Iran are pushing against Turkey by getting the Kurds in their respective countries to openly oppose Ankara through internal attacks.
The Turkish government recently launched a pre-emptive strike against the PKK in its southeast portion of the country. However, there has been a rise in PKK activity in Hatay province, which has given rise to Turkish concerns that Iran as well as Syria are aiding the PKK and its backers in Syria.
Adding to this concern for Turkey are the Kurds in northern Syria that border on Turkey’s southern border. The al-Assad regime has allowed the Kurds to basically run the area and has deliberately pulled back Syrian forces from the border between Syria and Turkey so that the Kurds can set up a virtual barrier from Turkey providing assistance to the Syrian opposition in Syria.
However, Kurdish autonomy over northern Syria could allow the PKK to set up a base and use it to threaten Turkey.
Syria and Iran are providing backing to the Kurdish Democratic Union Party which is linked to the PKK. Because of Iran’s close relationship to Iraq, Tehran also is expected to drive a wedge between Turkey and the Kurds in northern Iraq where there are vast oil resources which Turkey wants.
Turkey has been talking to the Iraqi Kurds but Iran now sees an opportunity to divide the Iraqi Kurds and Turkey. This in turn will create greater competition between Shi’ite Iran and Sunni Turkey that are looking to extend their influence over the same region in the Middle East.
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