Turkey Takes Bold Step Amid Escalating Border Disputes

Article Summary
A Turkish governor and municipal leader crossed into rebel-controlled northern Syria, escalating tensions between the two countries. Turkey is gearing up for war, writes Mohammad Noureddine, and the photo-op was a confrontational move.

Turkey has made the unprecedented move of crossing its border with Syria. In fact, the governor of Kilis province illegally crossed the border [into Syria] and shook hands with the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

The Turkish move conveyed more than a single message, especially after it was insisted that a private TV channel and other media outlets take pictures of the governor inside Syrian territory.

The first message is that Turkey is ready for military intervention in Syria, especially in the light of Turkey’s threats to Kurdish areas in Syria’s north — under the pretext that members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) are present there — and its continued military maneuvers conducted along the border.

The second message is that the political dispute between Syria and Turkey has reached a point of no return. These two Turkish senior officials didn’t realize the seriousness of their actions, whatever the justifications may be, although they have not yet offered any justification. This move is certainly provocative and lacks a minimum level of ethics and responsibility in international relations.

The move, which is documented with pictures and sound, delivered a third message that says that the government of the Justice and Development Party is publicly, and surely, backing up the Syrian armed opposition and its potential repercussions. However, Turkey’s highest official has denied that this is their policy.

The governor of Kilis border province, Yusuf Odabasi, and president of the municipality of Gaziantep Asim Guzelbey, were checking on Syrian refugee camps in the province before they unexpectedly went to the Oncupinar border crossing, which was free of any official security officer. They stepped out of their cars with a large delegation and walked into Syrian territory. The FSA’s members became surprised when they saw the delegation coming as they didn’t know who they were.

Once they recognized that he was the governor of Kilis and president of the municipality of Gaziantep, they called their leaders who have welcomed the Turkish officials with their delegation. At this point, neither Turkish officials hesitated when a private Turkish TV channel held an interview with both of them inside the Syrian territory, and it didn’t take them long before they take a lot of commemorative pictures, according to the newspaper Hürriyet. Once done, they walked back to the Turkish territory.

The Turkish government has decided to close the Oncupinar border gate to Syria for Turkish citizens, while it has allowed Syrian citizens to walk through the border to the Turkish territory.

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Found in: turkish-syrian relations, syrian kurds, syrian, pkk, kilis province, free syrian army
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