The Kurdish Question Raises Stakes In Turkey-Syria Tensions

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan targets PKK strongholds along the Syrian border after tensions last month sparked by Syria's shooting down of a Turkish military jet. The move is part of a longstanding conflict over Kurdish minorities who live in b

In the Syrian border town of Qamishli, a protester with a Kurdish and Syrian rebel flag (Freedom House)
In the Syrian border town of Qamishli, a protester with a Kurdish and Syrian rebel flag (Freedom House)

ANKARA - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced increased measures to counter the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Syria, which he says has moved to seize control of a number of villages along the Syria-Turkey border.

"In the north, President Bashar al-Assad's regime has allotted five provinces to the Kurds, to the terrorist organization," Erdogan said, speaking to top civilian and military officials at a Wednesday security summit. "Of course Turkey will not look warmly on the PKK's offshoot in Syria, the Democratic Union of Kurdistan (PYD). The activities of the separatist terrorist organization in our country and in neighboring countries must been discussed."

This was the first time Erdogan has mentioned the presence of the PKK in Syria. In the late 1990s, Turkey and Syria edged to the brink of war because of Damascus' support of the PKK. The dispute ended when Syria stopped backing the *terrorist organization.

During the summit, Erdogan was asked by a journalist if Turkey would strike fleeing rebels if they attack on Turkish soil, to which Erdogan responded "That's not even a matter of discussion, it is a given. That is the objective. That is what we have been doing and will continue to do in Iraq."

Turkish security forces killed at least 15 PKK terrorists in a raid near the country's border with Iraq on Tuesday, after tracking them with drones and attacking them with helicopters and ground forces.

Turkey may beef up its military presence along the Syrian border, where the PYD and PKK are most active. Turkish troop presence had already increased after Syria downed a Turkish fighter jet last month.

Eye on Qamishli

Turkey will focus operations on the small border town of Qamishli, where the PYD are most active. The PYD is preparing to take control of the town amid reports that the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has sent Syrian Kurds to northern Syria after training them for armed conflict. Video recordings of men in military uniform, believed to be crossing the Syrian border from northern Iraq, have increased concerns in Ankara. But the KRG has denied the reports.

Meanwhile, the Turkish military has deployed teams trained in dealing with chemical weapon attacks to the Syrian Border. The order comes after Damascus threatened it would use such weapons, should it be attacked by another country.

**This is a digest item, not a direct translation.

*Worldcrunch editorial note: In the Turkish media, the PKK is routinely referred to as a terrorist organization.

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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