Turkey preparing to take "new steps"
By Ayhan Simsek for SES Türkiye in Ankara
As the crisis in Syria
deepens, Turkey seeks international support for
refugees and steps up preparations for a possible
buffer zone along the border.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
addresses the media in Ankara April 5, 2012. Photo: Reuters
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April 11, 2012
ANKARA, Concerned by a large influx of
refugees and deepening crisis in Syria, Turkey
announced that it may soon request international
help to address the growing humanitarian crisis
along its border.
The call comes as joint UN-Arab League envoy Kofi
Annan arrived in Turkey Monday (April 10th), where
he examined the camps amid reports of continued
Syrian Army attacks north of Aleppo and Idlib, that
are spilling over the border.
According to a statement on Turkey's Foreign
Ministry website on Monday, two Syrians and two
Turkish nationals were wounded in the Kilis refugee
camp by stray shots fired from the Syrian side of
the border. On the same day, near Kilis, 21 wounded
Syrians fled across the border and two died in
The total number of deaths throughout Syria on
Monday reached over 100, according to Syrian
activist groups, as the UN-Arab League peace plan
looks doomed to fail.
Under the six-point Annan peace plan, Syrian
military forces are to pull out of cities on
Tuesday, and a cease-fire is to be implemented by
Thursday, a prospect Turkey's Deputy Foreign
Minister Naci Koru described yesterday as
Turkeys Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said
that Ankara will implement "new steps" if violence
does not stop by the Tuesday deadline set by the
Erdogan did not specify the next steps, but talk of
a buffer zone along the border to protect Syrian
civilians and provide humanitarian assistance
continues to be discussed. Erdogan stressed that
Turkeys doors will remain open to Syrian refugees.
"Turkey is making all necessary plans and
preparations against the risk of a large instability
and influx of refugees," Foreign Ministry
Spokesperson Selcuk Unal told SES Türkiye.
Over the past week, a record number of Syrians have
entered Turkey to escape the violence, testing the
country's ability to absorb the rapid increase.
"We have received around 2,500 refugees in a single
day [last Friday], that is almost 10% of all Syrian
refugees that are already in our country," Unal
said, highlighting the severity of the situation.
"If this influx continues to increase rapidly, there
may be a call for international assistance through
the UN and international organisations. We are not
ruling this out," he said.
Nearly 25,000 Syrian refugees have been given
temporary shelter in camps near the border. Some
refugees have been transferred to camps in Gaziantep
and Sanliurfa to open space for the newcomers. The
monthly costs to Turkey reached 27m TL ($15m) last
Meanwhile, Mahmut Osman, a member of the Syrian
National Council (SNC), told SES Türkiye that
opposition groups are trying to smuggle humanitarian
aid, medical supplies and communication equipment
across the 910-km long Turkey-Syria border.
"There are promises by the international community.
But so far only little help could be brought to the
civilians. People are losing their hope," said
adding that meeting the demands of civilians could
not be met by smuggling alone.
"A security corridor should be set up to bring
humanitarian aid to the civilians. In the past, the
international community witnessed several similar
situations. There are ways to bring this aid, with
the leading role of the UN," he said.
According to Osman Bahadir Dincer, senior Middle
East expert from the International Strategic Studies
Centre (USAK) in Ankara, the Annan Plan is
collapsing, making further militarisation of the
"The Annan Plan only postponed the creation of a
buffer for some time. There seems to be almost no
hope for the success," he told SES Türkiye. "Under
these conditions, a buffer zone would become a
necessity. I expect moves towards creation of a
buffer zone within a month."
Due to divisions at the UN Security Council and
historical sensitivities in the region, the creation
of a buffer zone involves several risks. Dincer says
these risks, including the military option, are not
preventing Turkey from acting.
"The Syria crisis has reached a point where there is
no option without a risk. Any step in one direction
or another will have risks," he said.
USAK, in a recent report on the Syria crisis, urged
the Turkish government to display an pro-active,
multi-dimensional policy on Syria, but also warned
that several actors in the region have launched
negative propaganda against Turkey, trying to
portray it as an occupying force.
"A buffer zone is a complex issue. The most
important thing for Turkey, before moving ahead with
such plans is to get international approval and
support. Otherwise, there can quickly be a climate
against Turkey in the region," Dinçer said.
Speculation continues, particularly in the Arab
press, that Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Gulf
countries are trying to provide arms to the Free
Syrian Army, the armed wing of the opposition whose
command and control centre is based in Turkey.
However, paralleling the SNC's position, Osman says
arming the opposition is neither a desired option,
nor a feasible one.
"Our main priority has been to maintain this
peoples' movement as a civilian movement, to achieve
our goals as a civilian movement," Osman said. "Once
you provide arms to the groups, it may become
difficult to maintain control and unity," he said.
"But on the other hand, the Assad regime, is leaving
the people with no other option than to acquire arms
for self-defense," he said, noting that the poorly
armed groups are no match for the superior firepower
of the Syrian Army.
Published by Ekurd.net in cooperation with Southeast
Copyright © respective author or news agency, setimes.com
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