Kurdish blogger Dilar Dirik writes about the effects of Syria's civil war on her native Antakya
, in the Turkish province of Hatay:
worried, the people of Hatay witness the horror of the civil war on
their doorstep. Those who have always been proud of their cosmopolitan
hometown of peaceful religious and ethnic co-existence now report that
the atmosphere of their once tolerant province has changed to the worse.
Aside from the suffering economy, many feel harassed by the warriors
that fight in Syria during the day, and spend the night in Antakya.
Local sources claim that Turkey trains rebels to send them across the
border - among them jihadists with Al Qaeda ties. The population of
Antakya started campaigns like “I want my Antakya back,” to protest
government policies that take advantage of Hatay as a host for warriors.
Arabs, who form the majority in Hatay, hold strong sympathies with the
internationally condemned Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad. Threatened
by the rise of religious fundamentalism among parts of the rebel forces,
many of these liberal democrats and Kemalists prefer Assad’s rule out
of fear of what Syria’s and their own future might hold if a Sunni
majority, taken advantage of by jihadist groups, seizes power across the
border. Existing political loyalties for Turkish parties transcend the
border to find their expression in solidarities within the Syrian
context. The population in the city of peaceful co-existence feels
threatened by the increasing politically religious face of the
revolutionaries, and fears for the secular regime in Syria, as though
secularism was a sufficient guarantor for democracy. Bashar and Asma
Assad are seen as a modern couple and enjoy an almost iconic status
Has anyone else heard of Turkey serving as a base of fighters entering Syria? If true, that would be a diplomatic card I expect Assad to use more.
Labels: Syria, Turkey