Sunday, April 7, 2013

Current Events: Turkey

Peace with the Kurds! Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the PKK, announced a cease-fire and ordered his troops to relocate outside of Turkish territory. This indicates the beginning of an end to the conflict with the Turkish government that has lasted longer than 30 years. In response, many Kurds showed their support with a rally in the Turkish city of Diyarbakir. While this is a particularly momentous announcement, it does not yet mean peace within the region. For one, Ocalan did not order the troops to disarm, just to retreat to other bases. Also, there are still Kurds located in many other areas such as Syria, Iran, and Iraq, which have not yet attempted peace with the Kurds. (March 21, 2013)
Rally in Diyarbakir
Supplying Syria through Turkey. Turkey appears to be overseeing a secret “pipeline” aiding Syrian rebels with arms and equipment through airlifts. Supported by the governments of Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and even the American CIA (largely disguised by an office in Croatia), Syrian rebels have been armed with over 3,500 tons of military equipment since November (after the US presidential election). Flights from each of these countries have landed in Turkey (the majority in Ankara), which were then transported into Syria over land. This change in direct involvement highlights the frustrations over the large number of refugees that have been displaced into surrounding areas during harsh winter conditions. Additionally, this takes place in response to the inability of the rebels to make progress against Assad’s government (supplied by Russia and Iran) which, although lacking evidence, was recently accused of using chemical weapons on rebels. Coincidentally, much of the recent gains from the Syrian Coalition have occurred since November, when the alleged arms assistance is said to have began. Turkey denies claims of any arms support, even despite being the only country to share a large border with rebel controlled area of Syria. (March 24, 2013) 

Riot begins in a Syrian refugee camp. Started by 130 refugees, this riot damaged many of the facilities at the Suleiman Shah Camp. In response, Turkey threatened to return these 130 refugees back to Syria. However, this threat was later modified, since such action would violate the protected status of refugees in host countries provided under international law. Instead, the refugees voluntarily returned to Syria, after Turkey gave them the choice between returning to Syria on their own or facing prosecution in Turkey. It is still unsure what caused this riot. Some sources blame a fire caused by electrical wiring that killed three children, while others say it was in response to the camp turning down additional Syrian refugees. Either way, this shows concern for the future viability of refugee camps, which may be forced to cut aid due to the rising costs they have placed on the United Nations and many outstripped donors. (March 28, 2013) 

New Newspaper to be printed in Turkey. Absi Smesem has recently undertaken the project of printing Sham, a new newspaper meaning “Syria” in Arabic. This weekly newspaper aims to be the first objective source of reporting about the conflict in Syria. Smesem claims Sham will move beyond the “Facebook Phase” of reporting on viral rumors that has consumed many other news sources. It will also address the lack of credibility from the regime and the rebels, who are both promoting their own campaign for support. This announcement also comes at a time when foreign nations, such as Turkey and Jordan, have been criticized by Assad for lying about their involvement in Syria. (April 1, 2013)

Attacks on elderly Armenian woman. Turfanda Asik was assaulted and robbed in Samatya, Istanbul’s historic Armenia quarter. Authorities have charged an Armenia man with these attacked. However, due to the approaching 100 year anniversary of the Armenian genocide in 2015, this remains a sensitive issue in the area, especially for many of the elderly residents who can still recall periods of intense discrimination. (April 3, 2013) 
Turfanda Asik, 88
Water pipeline to begin construction. A pipeline carrying water from the Anamur River in Southern Turkey through the Mediterranean Sea to Northern Cyprus. While it is expected that this pipeline will deliver nearly 20 billion gallons of water a year beginning in March 2014, it is still unsure how environmentally stable this intended project will be. Current costs for this project are estimated at about $550 million. (April 3, 2013)

Lastly, just for clarification, here is an updated map of the areas of control in Syria.

Sources: New York Times
Euronews, Youtube

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