The Turkish president talks about reopening the migration routes if more aid is not provided at an international level. The project is to create a buffer zone in the northeast; the real goal is to weaken the Kurdish component. AsiaNews source: Syrians are fleeing back across the border and the offensive on Idlib is worrying. The emergency demands an international commitment is needed.
Istanbul (AsiaNews) – Turkey is ready to re-open the route to Europe for Syrian migrants fleeing the war, if more international aid is not provided for the creation of a safe area in the north-east of Syria. Ankara therefore seems ready to use the refugee weapon, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calling for “logistical support” for a buffer zone in the Kurdish majority area of the neighboring country.
“If this does not happen – the Turkish leader threatened – we will be forced to open the doors”. “Our goal – continued Erdogan – is to repatriate at least one million of our Syrian brothers in a safe area, which we will train along the 450 km of border”.
AsiaNews sources in Turkey, who have asked for anonymity for security reasons, confirm that “people are starting to cross the border again from Syria” and “a flood of people, thousands of people, are ready to enter” following the offensive on Idlib.
When it comes to refugees, the source explains, we need to distinguish between “those of the past Syrians with permission, to those who arrive now, Iraqis, many of whom are Christians; finally, Africans, Afghans and Iranians. Right now in Smyrna, abandoned in a camp without any assistance, there are 150 Afghan families, about 400 people, who hope to be able to enter Europe and no one is assisting them “.
The Turkish project to create a “safe zone” is supported by the United States. However, the plan appears controversial because the Kurdish-Syrian forces are wary of Ankara, which intends to move many Syrians to the northeast who are not originally from the area with the aim of altering the demography. The opposing interests of the Ypg Popular Protection Units, the Kurdish militia, protagonist of the struggle against the Islamic State (IS, ex Isis) in Syria are intertwined. The militias are considered a terrorist group by Ankara and opposed to a Turkish military presence.
The area will be patrolled by joint US Turkish forces. Moreover, according to Erdogan the project will begin by the end of September. The president’s words also hide fears about the Moscow and Damascus offensive taking place in Idlib, the last jihadist and rebel stronghold in Syria. Some of the fighting groups in the area are supported by Turkey, which fears a new wave of refugees and migrants on its territory.
“In the border area – confirms the source of AsiaNews – there is a flood of Syrians ready to leave. Thousands ask the Turkish government to enter. Turkey is experiencing a period of economic difficulty and many locals are becoming increasingly impoverished and are starting to knock on the doors of humanitarian NGOs. Then the work is missing, or the underpaid one that is entrusted to foreigners prevails and this feeds the discontent and resentment towards the immigrant population willing to struggle even to lower compensation and fewer rights “.
Turkey, which welcomes over 3.6 million Syrian refugees – a record in the world – in the context of a policy promoted by President Erdogan in the name of solidarity between Muslims, today repudiated, is a transit country for illegal migrants. Most of them try to reach the coasts of the European Union (EU), especially Greece and Italy as landing nations, and then head for the northern nations. The authorities in Ankara have blocked this flow, following a framework agreement reached with Brussels which included substantial economic aid (up to three billion euros) in exchange for closing the route.
“Ankara – concludes the source – cannot use migrants as a weapon against Europe. That said, it is no longer possible to continue in this way. Erdogan wants to create a buffer zone to allow the Syrians to turn back, but there are no houses, no water, no work and life prospects so few are willing to do so. We would need a broader project, involving Turkey, Europe, international actors, but we cannot see effective prospects in this regard “.