Adana increases in importance in Syria politics

ISTANBUL – The Dutch Patriots, which might be stationed in Turkey as soon as early in the new year to protect Turkey against artillery fire from over the Syrian border, will probably be stationed near the city of Adana. Adana is Turkey’s fifth biggest city, some hundred kilometres from the Syrian border. Foreign military presence is not unusual there: since the nineteen fifties it has had an important American air base.

The city has 1.5 million citizens and is modern, located close to the Mediterranean Sea and is an important economic centre. Besides that, the region around Adana is known as one of the most fertile places on earth: on a large scale, fruits, vegetables and products like cotton are being grown.

The city grew rapidly in the nineteen nineties. The war between the armed Kurdish group the PKK and the state was at it fiercest at the time, hundreds of Kurdish villages were burned down in the Kurdish southeast of the country and many Kurds fled to the city.

In general, Kurds in Turkey don’t support the strong anti-Assad politics of the governing AK Party. They believe PM Erdogan is mainly arming himself against the Kurdish population of Syria, which lives right across part of the border and which managed to build a certain degree of independence over the last couple of months. The Free Syrian Army doesn’t no say in Kurdish territory. The Democratic Union Party, the Syrian equivalent of the PKK, pulls the strings.

In Adana, Reuters news agency reported earlier this year, there is a secret  centre where Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar collect intelligence and refer it to the Free Syrian Army. Whether that centre is located at the American base close to the city is not clear.

When the Dutch Patriots come to Adana, the city will again play a bigger role in Turkish and international Syrian policies. Even though the Kurds denounce Turkey’s politics concerning Syria, and many Turks, especially in border areas, don’t support it either, any increased tensions or protests are not expected in the city when the Patriots arrive.

Dutch military personnel should prepare for a hot summer. In July and August Adana is one of the hottest cities in Turkey: the temperature easily rises to 43- 44 degrees Celcius. Many Adana citizens leave the city and go to summer houses in the cooler mountains, north of the city.

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