More than 130,000 Kurdish refugees have fled from Syria to Turkey over the last few days. They have been welcomed by the Turkish Government with unusual warmth and promised shelter, despite Turkey’s initial reluctance to accept yet more refugees, writes Prince Michael of Liechtenstein.
The Kurds are being persecuted and attacked in Syria by radical Sunni rebels, especially ISIS - the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Some two million Kurds settled on a strip in northern Syria along the Turkish border.
Kurdish volunteer soldiers are crossing the border in the opposite direction - from Turkey to Syria - to support and defend their brother Kurds.
Defending the Kurds in Syria is more difficult than defending them in Iraq. The Iraqi Kurdish population is larger and has had a functioning autonomous administration there for a considerable time. Providing international support is easier because it is authorised by the recognised government in Baghdad. The international community has been reluctant to attack ISIS in Syria for fear of appearing to be collaborating or supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The one exception is the US air strikes which are delivered informing Damascus.
Turkey offers the only hope of support for the Kurds in Syria on the ground. It will be easier for Turkey to take a position against ISIS now that 49 Turkish hostages have been freed by the terror group.
Although Turkey appears hesitant for volunteers to go to Syria to fight it could now change its stance to support this defence.
This could also lead to a future association between Turkey and autonomous or independent Kurdish areas in what are still officially Iraq and still Syria.
Turkey has made a number of attempts to solve the Kurdish issue by giving them more autonomy. A Turkish-Kurdish federal structure could emerge as a long term solution.
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