1. Syria and Turkey: Border Security Priorities

Öztığ L. İ.

Middle East Policy, vol.26, no.1, pp.117-126, 2019 (SSCI)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 26 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Journal Name: Middle East Policy
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.117-126
  • Yıldız Technical University Affiliated: Yes


From Syria's independence in 1946 until the 1998 bilateral crisis, Turkish‐Syrian relations were characterized by hostility and mistrust. Not least in their uncooperative border interactions. In the 1950s, Turkey was concerned about the illegal transfer of goods across its Syrian border. In the 1980s and 1990s, preventing PKK (Kurdish Workers' Party) activities became Turkish policy makers' top security priority. Ankara even went so far as to plant landmines along the Syrian border.

After Syria ousted PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan from its territory in 1998, Turkish‐Syrian relations improved significantly; cross‐border cooperation took precedence over security. Since 2011, however, Turkey has faced multifaceted security challenges in parallel with the deepening conflict in Syria. The Islamic State of Iraq and al‐Sham (ISIS) and the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) have acquired territories in northern Syria, along the Turkish border. As a result of the current dynamics of the Syrian conflict, preventing cross‐border attacks and eliminating the territorial presence of ISIS and the YPG in northern Syria have become Turkey's top priorities.