Fight against Kurdish separatists to help Syria to close with Turkey

Fight against Kurdish separatists to help Syria to close with Turkey

Azerbaijan, Baku, Sept. 16 / Trend , U.Sadikhova/

Syria's statement regarding aid to Turkey on the Kurdish problem is another step of Damascus to close with Ankara to improve its image.

According to some experts, Syria's intervention would help Turkey to speed up solution to the problem with the separatist activities of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on the eve of his visit to Turkey this week has signaled his readiness to help the Turkish government in the fight against the PKK, the Anadolu agency reported.

Al-Assad said that Syria is ready to accept the members of the PKK, among which there are Syrian citizens, if they agree to lay down their arms and stop the armed struggle against Turkey, the news agency reported.

For more than 25 years, PKK, based in northern Iraq, is fighting against the Turkish government to establish an independent Kurdistan state in eastern Turkey.

The desire of Syria, whose ten percent of the population is Kurds in the north, to held Turkey to resolve the problem, analysts see as a desire for rapprochement with Ankara, which, in turn, could enable Damascus to establish the relations with the Western countries.

In 1998, the Syrian leadership expelled the head of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, sentenced to life imprisonment in Turkey. The two countries having a joint land and sea borders were on the brink of war at that time.

However, change in Damascus's position is primarily connected with the fact that the Syrian leadership realized the need for cooperation with Ankara, said Neil Quilliam, Analyst at the British Control Risk Center for the Study of the Global Risk.

Syria's relations with Iran have caused discontent among the Western countries and their Arab allies, so the alliance with Turkey could help the country leave the international isolation and achieve recognition in the international community, he believes.

"There are three direct benefits of Syria's developing this relationship with Turkey: first, Turkey is a window to Europe, second - to U.S. and finally - to Israel," Quilliam told Trend over a telephone from London. Therefore, Syria drives for expanding the ties with Turkey, by cooperating over the Kurdish issue.

Quilliam believes that settling the members of the PKK in its territory, Syria will follow closely that they will not attack Turkey across through its borders.

In 2008, Turkey was the only mediator in the indirect talks between Israel and Syria on the return of the Syrian Golan Heights, occupied in 1967, but two weeks ago, Ankara assumed the role of a peacemaker in the dispute between Syria and Iraq. Iraq's prime minister accused the Syrian government of sheltering organizers of two major bombings in Baghdad against the ministers of finance and foreign affairs.

Syria also wants to thank Turkey for mediation in the negotiations with Israel, and at the same time ensure that Ankara remains a major figure in the process, Syrian Political Analyst, Akram Khuzam told Trend over telephone.

However, according to some analysts, Syria's involvement in the process of struggle against the PKK may be useful for Turkey, which has considerable material and human losses from the fight against Kurdish separatists.

Kurds living in Syria, directly or indirectly may affect the solution to the Kurdish problem, given that the Kurdish community in Iraq, Syria and Turkey are linked, said Khuzam.

Turkish Analyst Ali Bulac believes only Turkey's effort is not enough to combat the PKK, because it is impossible to cope with this problem alone. "We need the intervention of Syria, Iraq and even Iran [the country with the largest Kurdish population]," Bulac said to Trend over telephone.

Benefits of the struggle against the PKK both for Syria and other neighboring countries will be an opportunity to establish stability in the region, believes Bulac.

"Syria has always played a key role in the region, and its involvement in this process will be very useful," said Bulac.

He said in 1998 the arrest of Ocalan, who was hiding in Syria, has facilitated anti-terrorist activities in Turkey.

However, despite al-Assad's desire to become involved in the fight against the PKK, the internal social problems in Syria related to the situation of the Kurdish minority may complicate this process.

The Syrian government has no control the Kurdish tribes, and it is interesting that many PKK fighters in the northern Iraq are alleged to be Syrian Kurds, Program Manager for the Middle East at the British Chatham House Analytical Centre, Robert Lowe told Trend .

"The biggest which Damascus could is to deport the head of PKK [Ocalan] from the country," said Lowe.

The Turkish Political Scientist, Bulac agrees with him and believes that the deprivation of civil rights of the Kurds in Syria and their relationship with the separatists in northern Iraq does not give privileges to Damascus to cooperate with Turkey in this matter.

Therefore, if Syria wants to help Turkey in the fight against terrorists, then, at least, it should give the civil rights to local Kurds, as Iran and Iraq did, added Bulac.

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