Everyone from the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, to the EU’s Catherine Ashton is “urging restraint” as Turkey retaliates for Syrian shelling over the border yesterday. But despite Turkish anger about the killing of five of their citizens, in the long-term they may be more concerned about what they see as Syrian “meddling” in Turkey’s internal conflict with the Kurds.
Over the summer, attacks by the Kurdish Workers’ Party, the PKK, suddenly increased after a decade of relative quiet.
While the world concentrated on what was happening inside Syria, the PKK attacked Turkish military patrols and took control of several dozen villages on the Turkish side of the border. Turkish commentators see the hands of Syria and Iran.
Everyone, of course, is meddling across borders. The Turks are funding and arming the Free Syrian Army, the main guerrilla group seeking the overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s government and allowing its fighters to retreat across into Turkey to rearm and regroup. Support for the PKK is the Syrian government response.