Connect with us


Phuket Gazette World News: Turkish bombs spark Syrian fear; EU in doubt; OJ Simpson returns; SARS-like virus to spread



– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Syrian refugees fear backlash in Turkey after bombings
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Syrian refugees in Turkey say they fear a backlash after car bombings that killed 50 people and wounded many others over the weekend in a border town.

Turkey is home to some 400,000 refugees from the two-year civil war in Syria, and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has emerged as one of the most vocal leaders in the region supporting the uprising against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

The bombings in the border town of Reyhanli have increased fears that Syria’s civil war is dragging in neighbouring states, despite renewed diplomatic moves to end it. Damascus has denied Turkish allegations it was involved in the blasts.

“We are putting our trust in God but our fear is that people will blame us for the bombings and will attack us. We have to protect ourselves,” said 75-year-old Mohammad Nuh, one of thousands of Syrian refugees living in Reyhanli.

“We haven’t been into the town centre since Saturday. Only out to the local shop. Other Syrians here won’t even leave the house,” said Nuh, who left Aleppo two months ago.

His grandson, Amr Nuh, 21, said he was out buying mobile phone credits when the blasts took place, and was seized by locals because he was Syrian. They held him and called the police who kept him overnight for questioning.

Since the attacks, some locals have turned their ire on the influx of Syrians in the town. Many have expressed anger over the policies of Erdogan, blaming his support of Assad’s opponents for bringing the war’s impact across the border.

Spontaneous demonstrations by angry young men chanting anti-Erdogan slogans have broken out. Syrian refugees have largely vanished from the streets, staying indoors for their safety.

We knew it would happen

A retired tailor who gave his name as Mehmet, 75, said anger was focused not at genuine civilian refugees but at rebel fighters who had taken advantage of hospitality in Turkey and were operating in the area, making it a target.

“We knew this bombing would happen. Even a 5-year-old would have known this was going to happen. There are going to be more,” said Mehmet, who said he was only a few hundred metres from one of the blasts when it happened.

“We do not know who most of these people are who come into our town. They leave at night and go fight over the border and then come back.”

Most of the local residents in this part of Turkey are ethnic Arabs and Sunni Muslims, like the majority of the Syrian refugees who have fled from the government of Assad, a member of the Alawite minority sect.

“A Syrian family lives there,” said Mehmet, pointing to an apartment. “It makes me sad: they are too scared even to come out now. I have nothing against these people. But the other people, we just don’t know who they are.”

Turkey has accused a group with links to Syrian intelligence of carrying out the car bombings.

“This incident is definitely linked to the (Syrian) regime,” Erdogan told reporters on Monday ahead of a trip to the United States. The bombings triggered a wave of anxiety, particularly along the 910 km border.

In Reyhanli, anger has been building for months as the Syrian war makes itself felt in the city. Turkish officials have urged people to keep calm.

NATO-member Turkey has fired back at Syrian government forces when mortars have landed on its soil, but despite its strong words has appeared reluctant to bring its considerable military might to bear directly in the conflict.

When Syrian refugees first entered Turkey in 2011, they were largely well received. But attitudes have soured.

“I blame the Turkish government for this mess. They should never have got involved in Syria … Now we are suffering because of it,” said 20-year-old student Hamdi.

Mustafa, a teacher, said: “We don’t want the Syrians here anymore. They can’t stay here. Whether we even wanted them or not, they can’t stay after this.”

Europeans losing faith in EU, French disillusioned – survey
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Europe’s debt crisis has shattered its citizens’ faith in the European Union and increased distrust between core nations, although support for the euro currency remains solid, according to a widely watched study released on Monday.

In a survey of 7,600 people in eight EU member states, Pew Research Center found rapidly declining confidence in the European project and growing disagreements over key parts of it between Germany, France, Britain and other major nations, a dangerous combination that could splinter European unity.

“The prolonged economic crisis has created centrifugal forces that are pulling European public opinion apart, separating the French from the Germans and the Germans from everyone else,” the survey’s authors said.

“The effort over the past half century to create a more united Europe is now the principal casualty of the euro crisis. The European project now stands in disrepute across much of Europe,” they added.

The findings come at a time when many European policy makers were beginning to hope that the worst of the crisis was over, with confidence slowly returning to financial markets and high streets, even if growth and job prospects remain dire.

The headline finding of the survey, conducted between March 2 and 27, was the fact that the “favourability” of the EU has fallen by 15 percentage points over the past year, from 60 percent in 2012 to 45 percent now.

At the same time, the southern European nations of Spain, Italy and Greece have become increasingly estranged, and France is drifting their way too, leaving a big divide with Germany.

“No European country is becoming more dispirited and disillusioned faster than France,” the authors concluded, highlighting French citizens’ rapidly declining confidence in the economy, in President Francois Hollande’s leadership and in the country’s overall commitment to the EU.

What’s more – and it is an element that investors have often expressed concern about – the survey showed that French public opinion was now sharply at odds with Germany’s and more closely aligned with that of Italy, Greece and Spain.

“The French now have less faith in the European Union as an institution than do the Italians or the Spanish,” the survey found. “And the French, like their southern European compatriots, have lost confidence in their elected leader.”

Trust in Germany

Despite the fact that Germany, and Chancellor Angela Merkel in particular, are frequently portrayed negatively in countries that have received EU bailouts, respondents were largely positive about Berlin, considering it the most trustworthy of states.

Merkel remains by far the most popular head of government in Europe, with 74 percent of those polled saying she was doing a good job in the crisis, down from 80 percent in 2012. The least popular leaders were in the Czech Republic, Greece and Italy.

But perhaps the most difficult finding to resolve is that, while respondents in many southern European countries tend to think the economic situation is only going from bad to worse, those surveyed in Germany see circumstances improving.

Three-quarters of Germans described economic conditions as good, up from 63 percent in 2007, while in Spain only 4 percent said conditio

— Phuket Gazette Editors


Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

What you get for $X11 hours ago

What $100,000 buys you for a condo in Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, Koh Samui and Hua Hin

Thailand12 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Activists plan protests all across Thailand

Thailand13 hours ago

Snitching on parking space hoggers could earn you 5,000 baht in Thailand

Sponsored21 hours ago

10 Best Seed Banks that Ship Cannabis Seeds Discreetly to You (Free US Shipping)

Weather13 hours ago

Storm Noru weakens from typhoon to depression as it moves across Thailand

World14 hours ago

Suicide bombing in Afghanistan hits students preparing for exam

Politics15 hours ago

BREAKING: Prayut reinstated as Prime Minister of Thailand

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Technology15 hours ago

What role for Thailand in China’s great European EV invasion?

Cambodia15 hours ago

Cambodian delegation in UK to seach for stolen treasures

Thailand15 hours ago

20 baht notes printed with errors, says Bank of Thailand

Crime16 hours ago

Loan shark bombs debtor’s house in southern Thailand

Thailand16 hours ago

Thai researchers develop flood-resistant rice strain

Press Room16 hours ago

Southeast Asia’s hospitality leaders step into the ring to fight for sustainability at PHIST 5

Crime16 hours ago

Horrified relatives attempt ID of disfigured suitcase victim

Travel16 hours ago

Things to do in Bangkok that cost next to nothing (2022)

Travel17 hours ago

5 best spa treatments in Bangkok to pamper yourself this September – October

Thailand1 year ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism2 years ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11