Civil War Next Door: Syrian Conflict Tests Neighbor Turkey

Uploaded by PBSNewsHour on 21.11.2012

bjbjVwVw JEFFREY BROWN: And now to the conflict in Syria. NATO said today that it would consider
a Turkish request to deploy Patriot missiles to protect itself from Syrian attacks. Turkey
and Syria share a 560-mile-long border, and after Syrian mortar rounds landed in Turkish
territory, concerns have risen that the civil war fighting could spread further. In Margaret
Warner's latest report, she examines the spillover that's already happening. MARGARET WARNER:
Nestled up against the border with Syria, Ceylanpinar, Turkey has an all-too-up-close
view of the civil war next door, as fighting rages in its Syrian twin city of Ras al-Ayn.
For days last week, on the Syrian side, President Bashar al-Assad's forces fought rebels of
the Free Syrian Army, or FSA, to control Ras al-Ayn. Terrified Syrian civilians scrambled,
some over razor wire, into Ceylanpinar. The FSA finally took over the Syrian town, but
not before badly fraying nerves in its Turkish neighbor. Turk Abdulazziz Guven said he'd
had to rescue his cousins from the Syrian side. ABDULAZZIZ GUVEN, Turkey (through translator):
The fight started at 3:00. At 7:00 a.m., we went to the border, called our cousins there,
and told them to come to the border. They are staying at my house now as my guests.
MARGARET WARNER: With the fighting in Syrian areas like Ras al-Ayn, just 100 yards behind
me, spilling over into Turkish towns like here in Ceylanpinar, Turkey finds itself walking
a fine line, between defending its interests and being drawn into a regional war. Yesterday,
Turkish soldiers were patrolling their side of the border, while FSA rebels drove along
their side, flag flying. Now there's new factional fighting in Ras al-Ayn between the FSA and
Syrian Kurds. And locals in the Turkish town are nervous about what's to come. SEYDO AKTIMAR,
Turkey (through translator): Bullets are coming from the other side to here. Our children
are scared. Many families moved away because they are scared. MAN (through translator):
When she hears the planes, my daughter says, father, are the planes of Bashar coming here?
We're very much concerned that the war will get much wider throughout the Middle East.
MARGARET WARNER: It wasn't always this way. Turkey and Syria were once allies. But Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan broke with Damascus in August 2011, after his appeals to Assad
to negotiate with democracy protesters were answered with deadly bombings against them
during Ramadan. Since then, Turkey has provided safe haven to Syrian refugees and fighters.
Stray fire from the Syrian side has killed Turkish civilians, prompting Turkey to fire
back. Now Turkey, a NATO member, is poised to receive Patriot missile batteries from
the alliance to fortify this 500- mile border. Turks throughout the country are fretting
about the prospect of wider war, even people like Inci Altinok, out for a Sunday stroll
in Istanbul hundreds of miles from the conflict. INCI ALTINOK, Turkey (through translator):
I wouldn't support a war. But if it comes, Turkey would finish Syria in minutes. Turkey
is a very strong country. We would all come together and strangle Syria. MARGARET WARNER:
But polls show there's little appetite for war. Cetin Ingiz said he had to leave his
border province of Hatay for Istanbul because tensions from the war had dried up local jobs.
CETIN INGIZ, Turkey (through translator): Mr. Erdogan is provoking Syria at the moment,
and he's screaming about war. People in Hatay used to live on money from the outside. Before,
there would be 10, 15, even 50 buses coming every day from Syria. Now there are no buses.
KEMAL KIRISCI, Bogazici University: The most visible consequence of the crisis in and the
violence in Syria on Turkey is an economic one. MARGARET WARNER: Political scientist
Kemal Kirisci of Istanbul's Bogazici University says border provinces like Hatay have been
hardest hit. KEMAL KIRISCI: So, there was a very heavy truck transit traffic going through
Syria. A lot of Turkish companies were doing big business with the Arab world beyond Syria,
Jordan, Egypt, the Gulf states. And by this summer, trade and businesses has grinded to
a halt. MARGARET WARNER: Part of that lost trade, shopping in places like Hatay's capital,
Antakya. Syrians used to flock here by the busloads to this souk in Antakya to buy everything
from clothing to household wares of the variety and quality they couldn't get at home. But
since the civil war erupted in Syria, that boon to business has all but evaporated. Jewelry
store owner Zena Buyukleya says her sales are down 50 percent. ZENA BUYUKLEYA, Turkey(through
translator): When they came, they would buy everything, gold and jewelry. And it's not
only our business. Everybody else's is going down here. MARGARET WARNER: The break with
Syria has also been felt in the sprawling city of Gaziantep, a manufacturing powerhouse
just 30 miles north of Syria. Exports have fueled businesses like Naksan, now one of
the top five plastic bag and packing makers in the world. But most of its exports to the
Middle East and North Africa went through Syria. We caught up with Gaziantep mayor Asim
Guzelbey at his city's newly opened museum for ancient mosaics. He sought to downplay
the impact, but conceded the loss of trade between Gaziantep and its sister city, Aleppo,
two hours south. MAYOR ASIM GUZELBEY, Gaziantep, Turkey (through translator): We had very good
relations. The trade between Turkey and Syria was large. And Syria was important to Turkey
for exports. But those things are left in the past now. MARGARET WARNER: A medical doctor
by training, he says Syrians now come here for different reasons. So, do you have injured
people coming here to Gaziantep? ASIM GUZELBEY: Yes, of course, a lot of injured people come
to Gaziantep. MARGARET WARNER: Where are they treated? ASIM GUZELBEY (through translator):
We treat them in our hospitals in Gaziantep and throughout Turkey, and the expenses are
paid by the Turkish government. MARGARET WARNER: Turks are also footing the bill for an ever-growing
number of camps in its borderlands, which now shelter more than 100,000 Syrian refugees.
This former tobacco factory in Yayladagi was the first. Most of its 2,400 residents are
settling in for their second winter in tents equipped with electricity and satellite TV.
For some, brick and mortar are replacing canvas and tarps. When will they be able to leave?
Cemal Argol is a Turkish-Arabic translator at the camp. CEMAL ARGOL, translator (through
translator): Neither we nor they know when they will go back. And even if they go back,
most of them have nothing. MARGARET WARNER: But 18-month camp resident Armani Karnibo
made it clear she and her family yearn to go home. What are these symbols of? ARMANI
KARNIBO, Syrian resident (through translator): These are symbols of victory. MARGARET WARNER:
She has fashioned artwork out of seeds, grains, rice and paint. ARMANI KARNIBO (through translator):
We want to show we refugees are here not only eating and sleeping. We have a goal to achieve.
We want to go back to our homes. MARGARET WARNER: Maryam Hajyoussef and her husband,
Ahmed, had one son killed by Assad's security forces and now their second son is fighting
with the resistance. MARYAM HAJYOUSSEF, Syrian resident (through translator): They took everything.
They stole our homes and burned them. MARGARET WARNER: Her anger ebbed when she spoke of
what Turkey has done. MARYAM HAJYOUSSEF (through translator): Thanks to God we are here. Thanks
to them for their hospitality. MARGARET WARNER: What would you do if Turkey weren't providing
this place to be? MARYAM HAJYOUSSEF (through translator): They would have killed us all.
KEMAL KIRISCI: I think the Turkish public by and large feels a lot of empathy with these
refugees. MARGARET WARNER: But now, says Kemal Kirisci, there's a growing backlash against
them, particularly among members of Turkey's minority Alawi sect, who share bonds with
Assad's ruling Alawites in Syria. KEMAL KIRISCI: The conflict in Syria that sometimes has been
defined in Turkey as a conflict between a regime that is minority base or, slash, Alawite
base, versus a Sunni majority, has had a spillover effect in Turkey. MARGARET WARNER: Indeed,
we heard scorn for the mostly Sunni refugees, and it was loudly expressed in the central
square of the mostly Alawi seaside town of Samandag. TARIK ASLAN, Turkey (through translator):
They are all al-Qaida. They are terrorists, and criminals brought here from Afghanistan,
Libya, Iraq. The CIA paid them each $50,000 to come here. IMMETIN KURAN, Turkey (through
translator): We are Alawites here, too. If they have sectarian problems over there, we
feel the pain over here, too. Provocation and the sectarian problem, that's happening
here now. MARGARET WARNER: Yet, however much the Turks would like to find a way out of
the conflict next door, desperate Syrians, like this mother and her four children, will
keep trying to find their way in. JEFFREY BROWN: And you can watch Margaret's previous
reports from Turkey and Syria on our website. hW7Z h=t\ h=t\ hW7Z h=t\ h=t\ hW7Z h=t\ h=t\
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