News Analysis: Blast at Turkish-Syrian border unveils dangers of violence spillover

2013-02-11 21:51:09 GMT2013-02-12 05:51:09(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

ANKARA, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- Monday's car blast at the Turkish- Syrian border gate has raised fears that the violence from Syria's 22-month conflict may be spilling over to the Turkish side.

Initial reports indicated that the car was exploded in a no man 's land close to the Turkish border gate of Cilvegozu. The blast killed at least 13 people and injured 28 others. At least three of the killed were Turkish nationals, according reports from the area.

There are different speculations on who was behind the attack or what was the motivation, as the authorities are scrambling to investigate circumstances of the incident. But it is almost agreed in Turkey that the instability in the neighboring state has become more and more dangerous for Turkey.

According to one interpretation, the car bomb was in fact a warning to the Turkish government for its support to the opposition against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.

"This is a message by Damascus that the regime can launch an attack in a territory that is very close to the Turkish border. It was a warning to Turkey to stop interfering into the Syrian affairs," Hasan Kanbolat, director of Ankara-based think tank Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies (ORSAM), told Xinhua on phone.

The Syrian side of the Cilvegozu border gate was captured by the Syrian opposition in July 2012 and has been fully controlled by them. The gate was used to provide logistical support to the opposition forces as well as for delivery of humanitarian aid and relief supplies. The gate is also used for tens of thousands of refugees every day to cross into the Turkish side to escape from the rising violence in Syria.

Mehmet Seyfettin Erol, head of Ankara's Center for International Strategy and Security Studies (USGAM), agreed with Kanbolat, saying that the Syrian government may have fired a warning shot across the bow of Ankara.

"From Syrian perspective, the opposition is viewed as terrorists. The attack was a message to Ankara that the terror may boomerang on Turks as well," he told Xinhua.

Erol did not discount another speculation that the blast was the act of forces that want to see Turkey engage deeper into the Syrian crisis. "It is quite possible that this may be a provocation to pull Turkey into Syrian quagmire," he underlined.

More than 170,000 Syrian refugees, including army defectors, are taking shelter in camps in Turkey, with the support of more than 600 million U.S. dollars of aid.

In October 2012, Turkey retaliated after a mortar shell fired from Syria landed in a house in a Turkish border town and killed five Turks. NATO has recently deployed Patriot missile systems in Turkey against possible missile threat from Syria.

Meanwhile, others said the powerful blast may be tied to the smuggling of hazardous material across the border like cooking LPG bottles or fuel oil. However, deputy of Turkish Republican People' s Party Hasan Akgol, who visited the explosion site, dismissed reports that the incident might be the result of LPG container explosion. "I have not seen any pieces from LPG bottles. If it was a mortar attack, there should be a big hole where it landed. I believe this was a provocation made a suicide attack," he said.

Numan Kurtulmus, deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), promised that the authorities will shortly uncover the true nature of the incident. Stressing that tens of incidents like this have happened in Syria, he said the Syrian crisis "has started to have impact on Turkey. This is no longer Syrian internal matter."

Mustafa Edip Yilmaz, a foreign news desk editor at Turkish daily Zaman, raised the possibility that the attack is related to the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, Turkey and European Union.

"Though it is too early to say anything as details are still unclear, this might very well be related to the recently announced government initiative to talk to the jailed leader of the PKK to pave the way for the disarmament of the organization," Yilmaz told Xinhua, adding that some circles clearly do not want this process to reach to a successful conclusion.

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