Turkey suspects Syrian regime links as PKK ramps up attacks

ANKARA, AFP 25.8.2012 –  A recent increase in Kurdish rebel attacks close to the Turkish-Syrian border is ringing alarm bells in Ankara, as Turkish experts and media say it might point to a spillover from the crisis in Syria.

Although the Turkish southeast is a frequent scene of Kurdish rebel attacks, Wednesday’s bombing that killed nine people in previously unaffected the Kurdish city of Gaziantep has sparked national fury, as well as suspicions of a Damascus hand behind the incident.

“It’s known that the PKK works hand in hand with Syria’s intelligence organisation Al-Mukhabarat,” claimed ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy chairman Huseyin Celik following the blast, referring to the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “is inclined to see Turkey’s enemy the PKK as a friend on the basis that ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend,'” he told the daily Hurriyet. Celik’s remarks followed Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s cautious hints at Syrian involvement in the bombing, which he said showed “a parallelism in terms of mentality and approach” with the Assad regime’s bloody crackdown on dissent.

Assad is orchestrating the PKK attacks to send a “warning” to the Turkish government to reconsider its policies of assisting his own enemies, columnist Deniz Zeyrek wrote in the daily Radikal. Another columnist, Asli Aydintasbas of the daily Milliyet, also suggested that the PKK targeted Gaziantep in a blow at the Turkish government’s Syria policy. Speaking to the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet in early July, Assad rejected claims that his regime was using the PKK to undermine Ankara, while making it clear that it was angry with Turkey.