Balkans: April 4, 2000


Tensions between Turkey and Syria have always been present, ranging from a low simmer to a rolling boil. Syria complains that Turkey does not release enough water down the Euphrates, has a military pact with the hated Israelis, and threatened an outright military invasion during the 1998 confrontation over Syrian support for PKK guerrillas. The primary focus of the tension, however, is the Turkish province of Hatay, which is claimed by Syria. The province was part of the Ottomon Empire, and was occupied by the French during WWI. When the Europeans were carving up the Middle East in the 1920s, France gave Hatay to Turkey in exchange for a non-Aggression pact. The province was of mixed Turkish and Arab population, and both claimed to be the majority. The Syrian ambassador to the US remarked in May 1998 that there would come a time to "take Hatay from Turkey" and in mid-March the Syrians distributed a map of their country at the International Tourism Fair in Berlin showing Hatay to be part of Syria. --Stephen V Cole


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