This post has been updated. Roee was released at around 4 a.m. local time.
I am writing this from a Turkish police center in Ceylanpinar. Located in eastern Turkey along the border with Syria, it is in Urfa province and it’s population is mostly ethnic Kurdish.
My television crew and I were filming along the border about the Kurdish divide and Turkish fears in Ankara about a power vacuum in northern Syria.
Two secret police spotted us filming from a rooftop the Syrian town – in full Kurdish control, meaning no Syrian troops or rebel fighters in sight.
It is unclear to me if we will be just detained and then let go, or actually arrested. (I would imagine the latter would be preposterous because we didn’t really do anything, and also because today the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is visiting in Istanbul and meeting with the country’s top leaders. It would be rather untimely to have Turkish police arrest an American journalist trying to cover from Turkish soil the conflict in neighboring Syria. Especially just as Washington pledges $5.5 million in “non-lethal aide” to help the rebels win their war against Syrian President Bashar Assad, a cause which aligns with Turkish interests.)
I guess it can’t be all that bad, since the police are letting me write this post on my iPhone while they try to figure out why I also have an Israeli passport. And while my detention is annoying, if for no other reason than losing valuable filming daylight, it does highlight Turkish edginess in this part of the country. Ankara fears that Kurds in eastern Turkey may be emboldened by chaos in northern Syria, political autonomy for Kurds in northern Iraq, and anti-Turkey sentiment – backed by Tehran, in northwest Iran. These are all ethnically Kurdish areas which separatists envision as a future, united state.
In recent weeks, Turkish troops killed more than one hundred Kurdish fighters in eastern Turkey, who they argued are being armed and backed by Kurdish terrorists across the border in Iraq. No doubt the offensive was also meant to send a message to Kurds in northern Syria to think twice before exciting their brethren across the border.
Oh, time to go back in to the Police Chief’s office.
Ceylanpinar August 11, 2012
Read the full report of Roee Ruttenberg