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News Analysis: Turkey faces more risks on border as Syrian conflict escalates

10 septembrie 2013

ANKARA, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) – Turkey is facing difficulties in controlling its border with Syria where two-and-half year conflict has already spilled over the Turkish side with slew of refugees, illegal smuggling and deadly threats, Turkish analysts said.

„The porous border between Turkey and Syria has turned into Swiss-cheese because of the collapse of the authority in Syrian side,” Mehmet Seyfettin Erol, the head of Ankara’s International Strategic and Security Research Center, told Xinhua in an interview on Monday.

„On the Turkish side, security forces have difficulty in ensuring safety and security along 910 kilometer long border because they are overwhelmed with refuges and smugglers,” he added.

Bottleneck squeeze at the official border crossings with an excessive refugee influx from Syria poses a series of threats because the Turkish security forces cannot do a thorough security screening for both Syrians and their cargos.

A leaked police report by the southeastern province of Sanliurfa on checkpoints last week unearthed flurry of problems faced by security forces.

The report warned that checkpoint at the Akcakale border gate have become uncontrollable due to overloading of refugees. It said a large mob of refugees at the border could easily overwhelm border guards.

The report also underlined that militants from Syria’s Democratic Union Party (PYD), an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party that is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and European Union can easily cross the border to create domestic turbulences in Turkey.

In the meantime, Arab and Kurdish conflict is also brewing in northern Syria where radical organizations like al-Nusra Front, which is connected to al-Qaida has been fighting for weeks with Kurdish militants from PYD to seek dominance in the region.

„The border gates are not the only problem that the security forces face with. There are a number of uncontrolled crossing areas where both refugees, rebels, foreign agents and smugglers use, ” said Mesut Cevikalp who surveyed the area on a recent trip.

In some cases, the only obstacle facing Syrians is a fence with barbed wire that poses no deterrence whatsoever, he noted.

The increasing number of refugees in border cities also put a pressure on city’s health care, social safety and public order systems as hospitals were crowded and local crime incidents were spiked.

Despite challenges at the border, government officials insist Turkey would continue to implement an open door policy with Syria.

Attending to a ministerial meeting between neighboring countries and officials from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Geneva last week, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey would still welcome fleeing Syrian refugees.

He said that Turkey and other neighbors who provided shelter to refuges has absorbed Syrian crises to some extent, leaving other countries to pay less attention to their plight. He also said an open door policy by neighbors might help Syrian regime fulfill what he called „ethnic cleansing” in Arab nation.

Moreover, a deadly threat is looming large in border provinces against the background of a twin car bombing in border town Reyhanli of Hatay province in May that claimed 52 lives. Experts said all kinds of contraband, banned or illicit goods can be smuggled back and forth over border line.

Hasan Kanbolat, the director of Centre for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies and a native from Rehyanli, said the border between his town and Syria has practically melted away.

„Both humans and goods pass easily back and forth over the borders here, which is why none of this is perceived as smuggling, ” he said.

„With a population of around 70,000, Reyhanli has received another 70,000 or so Syrians, and hundreds more arrive every day. Over the past two years, the population here has swelled to between 140,000 and 150,000,” he explained.

More than half a million Syrian refugees live in Turkey and the Turkish government said it has spent 734 million U.S. dollars on its Syrian refugees and received only 135 million dollars of aid so far.

The Turkish military has continued dispatching additional troops and artillery to provinces on the Syrian border since last week as the U.S.-led attack on Syria nears.

Editor: Mu Xuequan

Sursa articol: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/special/2013-09/10/c_125354891.htm


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