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LarryonTruman

March31,2014
Dr.Amstutz

SyrianTurkishBorderConflictsDuringtheSyrianCivilWar
Inthispaper,IwillattempttodescribeandassessthecomplexityofSyrianTurkish
borderincidentsthatculminatedwiththespilloveroftheSyriancivilwaronTurkishsoil.The
SyrianTurkishborderincidentstartedonOctober3,2012whenanartilleryshellfiredbythe
SyrianArmykilledfiveTurkishcitizensandinjuredanotherteninthebordertownofAk

akale
intheSanliurfaProvinceofTurkey.Sincethen,therehavebeenmanymoredisputesand
casualties.
Iwillattempttooutlinethehistoricalcontextofthesetwostates,thespecificproblem,
explainthenature,andpresentaproposalforthesolutionofthisissue.Thispaperwillbe
dividedintothreesubheads:1)NatureandSignificanceoftheProblem,2)ImpactofDispute,
and3)PossibleWaystoContainorAmelioratetheConflict.
NatureandSignificanceofProblem
ThissectionofthepaperwillattempttogiveahistoricalbackgroundonSyriaTurkey
relations.ThesetopicswillincludetheHatayAnnexation,hydropolitics,thePKKandthe
expulsionof
Abdullahcalan
.Furthermore,thissectionwillhighlightthenatureoftheSyrian
CivilwarandhowithasimpactedinterstaterelationswithTurkey.Lastly,Iwillfocuson
specificincidentsoftheSyriaTurkeyborderconflict.

HaytanAnnexation
Possiblyoneoftheearliestsourcesoftensionsbetweenthesetwostatesisthe
AnnexationofHatay.In1938,theSanjakofAlexandrettabecameindependentfromtheFrench
mandateofSyriaastheRepublicofHatay.Eightmonthslater,theRepublicofHataydecidedto
annexitselftoTurkeyastheHatayProvince.Thisselfannexationwasfinallyrecognizedbythe
Syriangovernmentin2004.Syriansholdandbelievethatthislandishistoricallytheirsandthat
itwasillegallycededtoTurkeybyFrance.Yet,theyhavegivenuponanyterritorialclaims.
ThiseventmarkedthebeginningoftheterritorialconflictthatSyriaandTurkeyface
today.ManyoftheborderclashesthatIwillsoonexplainhashappenedinbordertownsofthis
province.Duetonatureandtensionbetweenthesetwostates,itisimportanttolookatthe
historicalcontextandanypreviousborderissuestounderstandthecurrentconflict.
Hydropolitics
Politically,waterplaysanimportantroleinrelationshipsbetweenstatesintheMiddle
East.Intenyears,itispredictedthatArabianpeninsulacountrieswillbeusingdoublethe
amountofwaterthatisavailabletothem.Inthefuture,whoevercontrolscleanwaterwillhave
theupperhand.ThisisespeciallythecaseintheMiddleEastwherewaterwillsoonbeascarce
good.InTurkeyscase,theyhavetheupperhandandhavetheabilitytocontrolSyriaswater
supply.
HydropoliticshasaffectedSyrianandTurkishrelationsforthelast25years.Turkeyhas
plannedonbuildingover90damsand60powerplantstoassistthe9millionpeoplelivinginthe
SoutheasternAnatoliaregionofTurkeyaspartofadevelopmentprojectcalledGAP.GAPisa
multisectorintegratedregionaldevelopmentprojectbasedontheconceptofsustainable

developmentforthepopulationofSouthernTurkey.Sofar,therehavebeen22damsbuiltand
haveassistedmanypeople.ThisprojecthasbeenagreatdevelopmentforthestateofTurkey,
however,thisconstructionofdamsandreductionofwaterintherivershaselevatedthe
SyriaTurkeyrelationshipsevenfurther.
PKKandcalanExpulsion
Thereare,however,issuesthatTurkeyandSyriahavebeenabletoameliorate.Onesuch
incidentistheSyriansupportofthePKKand,later,theexpulsionofPKKfounder,Abdullah
calan.ThePKKistheKurdistanWorkersPartyandisrecognizedasaterroristorganization
bytheUN,NATOandEU.SyriahadbeenshelteringPKKleader,
calan
,fromtheTurkish
government.TurkeywasatthepointofthreateningwaronSyriaiftheydidnothandover
calan
backovertoTurkeytobeprocessedforcrimes.In1999Syriaexpelled
calan
,andhe
waslaterfoundinKenya,andwasarrestedandtakenbacktoTurkey.Relationsbetweenthetwo
statesimprovedfromthenon.ItwasntuntiltheSyriancivilwarthatrelationsbeganto
deteriorate.
SyrianCivilWar
TheSyrianCivilWarhasbeenthebiggestcontributingfactorofelevatingtensions
betweenSyriaandTurkey.Thecivilwar,whichstartedinMarch15,2011hascauseddiplomatic
tiesbetweenthetwostatestofallapart.Turkeyhasbeenveryvocalabouttheirdispleasurewith
SyriasPresidentAssadandhisuseofexcessiveandviolentforceagainsttheoppositionforces.
Theyhaveevenaskedforhisdeparturefromoffice.StartinginOctober2011,Turkeybeganto
houseoppositionleaders(FreeSyrianArmy)asabaseofoperationsandheadquarters.

Furthermore,Turkeyhashadtoshelterover600,000refugees,orguestsastheyprefertocall
them.
WehavenowreviewedthepastseveralyearsofSyriaTurkeyrelations.Wehavefound
thattensionshavebeenhighthroughouttheyears,wereontheupsideafter
calan
wasexpelled
andBasharalAssadelectedpresident,andthentookaturnfortheworstoncetheSyriancivil
warbrokeout.Takingalloftheseincidentsintoaccountwearenowabletofullyunderstandthe
complexityandcomplicationsbehindtheSyrianTurkishborderdisputesduringtheSyriancivil
war.
SyrianTurkishBorderIncidentsduringtheSyrianCivilWar
Duetothenatureofthisincidentandthelengthandrecurrencesoftheseevents,Iwillnot
gointoeveryborderclashandeverydetail.Instead,Iwillhighlightkeyclashesanddisputes.
TheSyrianTurkishborderincidentshavebeencausedasaresultofspilloverofthe
Syriancivilwar.TheyhaveoccurredinsouthernbordertownsofTurkeyandSyriaalongthe
SyrianTurkishborder.Dozenshavebeenkilled,bothcivilianandmilitarypersonnel.22Turkish
civilianshavebeenkilledandanother43havebeenwounded.Asopposedto10Syriancivilians
killedand15wounded.TherehavebeendozensofSyrianmilitarypersonnelthathavebeen
killedandwoundedintheconflict.
ThefirstborderincidentoccurredinthebordertownofAkakaleintheSanliurfa
ProvinceofTurkeywhenanartilleryshellfiredbytheSyrianArmykilledfiveandinjuredten
Turkishcitizens.Asaresponsetothisincident,TurkeyrespondedtotheSyrianArmyby
shellingSyrianborderoutpostsover87times.

Thenextincidentdoesnotinvolvelandborders,ratherairspaceborders.InJune2012,
theSyrianairdefensesshotdownanF4Phantomfighterjet,bothTurkishpilotswerekilled.
Thisincidenthassomecausefordispute.WhileSyriasaysthatitshotthefighterdownusing
antiaircraftartilleryinOmalTuyourwhilethejetwasoverSyrianterritorialwaters,Turkey
saysthatitwasfireduponininternationalairspaceafteraccidentallyenteringSyrianairspaceon
atrainingflighttotestTurkeysradarcapabilities.Whichstoryisthetruthisunclear,butwhat
wedoknowisthatTurkeythereafterchangeditsstanceonairspacebordercontrol,andboth
countriesdonotallowcommercialormilitaryplanestoflythroughtheirairspace.
Mostrecently,on23March2014,aTurkishjetshotdownaSyrianwarplanewhileit
wasstillinSyria,butveryclosetoTurkishairspace.Thepilotwasnotkilled,butejectedsafely
beforetheplanefelldown.
Therehavebeenmanyothermilitarydisputes.Bombingsofbordertownshavebeena
prevalentissuethroughoutthisconflict.TherehasalsobeenborderairraidwheretheSyrian
armybombedaTurkishbordertownthatwasknowntohaveoppositionleadersresidingthere.
Whatcanbenotedfromtheseincidentsisthatthesetwocountrieswanttomaintaintheir
perceptionofpowerandwanttobeseenasamilitarycompetentnationsthatareabletodefend
theircountry,eventhroughtheuseofforce.ItseemsthatTurkeywillnotdirectlyintervene
militarilywithSyriaunlessitisprimarilytodefenditsownterritoryandnation.
Withthatpremise,wewilllookattheimpactofthedisputeandhowithasaffecteddifferent
economic,humanitarianandpoliticalspheres.

ImpactofDispute

TheSyriaTurkeyborderclasheshaveledtoseveraldifferentissues.Lossoflifeand
retaliationareafew.DuetotheSyriancivilwartherearehumanitarian,economicand
diplomaticcrisesthathavecometoTurkey.
Mostimportantly,therehasbeenunnecessarylossoflife,thatcouldhaveotherwisebeen
prevented.Theborderclasheshavehappenedasaresultofacivilwarthatshouldbeconfined
withintheboundsofthatstate.Turkishcivilianshavediedandbeeninjuredinawarthatisnot
theirown.
Accordingto
RulesoftheGame,
theUnitedNationssystemisbasedontheassumption
thatforceislegitimateundertwoconditions.Itislegitimateinresponsetoaggression,andwhen
sanctionedbytheSecurityCouncilintheserviceofglobalpeace.InthecaseoftheTurkey,they
hadeveryrighttoretaliateandattackSyriansoil.Sincethisisthewaytheinternationalrelations
works,thatis,titfortat,wecanexpecttohaveareactionorretaliationforeveryaction.
Fromahumanitarianperspective,Turkey,aswellasseveralothernations,facetheissue
ofrefugees.SincethestartoftheSyriancivilwartherehavebeenover2.5millionrefugeesthat
havefledSyria.Outofthese2.5million,approximately600,000havegonetoTurkey.The
amountofpeoplecomingintoTurkeyputsenormousstressontheTurkishgovernment,whoare
directlyinchargeoftheseguests.
DuetothedepartureofsomanySyriancivilians,aswellasdestroyedinfrastructure,the
Syrianeconomyhasgreatlydiminished.However,thisdoesnotmeanthatTurkeyseconomy
willbeabletogrow.MorethanhalfofTurkeysGDPcomesfrominternationaltrading.Turkey
needstradingpartnersinorderfortheireconomytogrow.

PossibleWaystoContainorAmelioratetheConflict
TheonlywaythatTurkeybelievesthatthisconflictandtiesbetweenTurkeyandSyria
aregoingtoberesolvedisif,1)theSyriancivilwarweretoend,2)theoustingofthe
authoritarianregimeinSyria,3)anddemocratization.
TheendoftheSyriancivilwaristhetoppriorityfortheTurkishgovernment.
Now,thismayseemstrangethatonenationstoppriorityistoinfluencetheoutcomeofanother
nationstateconflict.However,duetoalloftheimplicationsandconsequencesthatTurkeyhas
facedasresultoftheSyriancivilwar,itisareasonableandattainablegoalsetoutbytheTurkish
government.Syriaisbeingdestroyeddaybydayinthiswarandmanyciviliansarelosingtheir
livesbecauseofit.Onewaytoendthiswarwouldbetoformagovernmentthatsharespowerby
thecurrentAssadregime,theoppositionaswellassomeothergroups.

NextontheTurkishagendawouldbetoousttheauthoritarianregimethatiscurrently
beingheadedupbyAssad.ThetransitionoftheBaathpoliticalpartyintosomethingthatthe
stateofSyriawouldelectthroughtheprocessofdemocratization.

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