Turkey Says It ‘Will Not Tolerate’ a Kurdish Sanctuary in Syria

Turkey sent tanks and missile batteries to the border next to Syria's Kurdish region

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he will not tolerate a Kurdish safe-haven in Syria following reports that Kurdish rebels and a Syrian Kurdish political party had taken control of large swathes of territory along the Turkish-Syrian border.

Erdogan emphasized Turkey’s concern that a Kurdish authority in the north of Syria could provide a sanctuary to Turkey’s own Kurdish separatists for them to possibly launch attacks into Turkey.

“We will not allow a terrorist group to establish camps in northern Syria and threaten Turkey,” he said on Thursday. “If there is a step which needs to be taken against the terrorist group, we will definitely take this step.”

Late on Thursday Turkey mobilized and deployed tanks and missile batteries on the Syrian border near the Kurdish region, prompting concern Syria’s internal conflict could spill outside its own borders. Turkey is a NATO member state, so if it decides to engage it could have serious consequences.

But Erdogan’s government has been allowing Syrian rebels to establish bases in Turkey, from which they launch attacks into Syria. Apparently, the Turkish motto is ‘do as we say, not as we do.’

When Syria began to descend into extreme violence, Turkey gave shelter to the Syrian rebel fighters and eventually provided them with lethal and non-lethal aid, despite their having ties to terrorist groups and having committed serious crimes themselves. That Turkey would complain about Syria committing to the mirror image of its own policies is embarrassing.

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for autonomy in southeast Turkey for decades, has been condemned as a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. During the 1990s, Washington supported Turkey major atrocities in the southeast Kurdish region, leaving the countryside devastated with tens of thousands killed and millions displaced.

Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.