|Kurds protested April 6 in Qamishli against the Syrian government. |
Most of the Kurds, however, have not joined the fighting.
(NYTmes) Mr. Assad has made major efforts to keep them out of the fray, aware that their support for the opposition could prove decisive. He has promised that hundreds of thousands of Kurds will be given citizenship, something the ruling Assad family has denied them for nearly half a century. The Kurds have other reasons for holding back: the opposition movement in Syria is made up in large part by the Muslim Brotherhood and Arab nationalists, two groups that have little sympathy for Kurdish rights, and the Kurds cling to their long-sought goal of a Kurdish state. A wild card in all this is the Kurdistan Workers Party, known as the P.K.K., a well-armed and well-trained militia that has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States. In Syria the group has allied itself with the Assad government, which could use it to stir up tensions along the Turkish border, should Mr. Assad see the need. In the past, Syria armed and protected the P.K.K. in its long campaign against Turkey, though that assistance cooled when relations between the countries began improving little more than a decade ago. The group has already threatened to turn all Kurdish areas in the region into a “war zone” if Turkey crosses the border to intervene in the Syrian crisis.
(Claire Berlinski) via (gatestoneinstitute.org) Speaking late last night on Turkey's Kanal 24, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Ankara would not hesitate to strike at the PKK if it used Syrian territory to launch attacks on Turkish soil.
"In the north, it (President Bashar Assad's regime) has allotted five provinces to the Kurds, to the terrorist organization," Erdogan said on Turkish television late Wednesday, referring to the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK).Given that Syria has warned that it will use chemical weapons against any external threat--("if such weapons exist," Syrian Foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi later clarifed, which of course they do), I suppose we'd all best hope that Turkish columnist Mehmet Ali Birand is right and that Assad is just bluffing.
He said the move was explicitly aimed against Turkey and warned that "there will undoubtedly be a response on our part to this attitude."
Asked if Ankara would strike fleeing rebels after an attack on Turkish soil, Erdogan said: "That's not even a matter of discussion, it is a given. That is the objective, that is what must be done."
"That is what we have been doing and will continue to do in Iraq," he said during a program aired on Kanal 24.
"If we occasionally launch arial strikes against terrorist areas it's because these are measures taken because of defense needs."
Turkey regularly bombs suspected Kurdish rebel hideouts in northern Iraq.
Me, I'm not so sure.