Erdogan wants refugee summit with merkel, macron and putin

Erdogan wants refugee summit with merkel, macron and putin

US-Turkish patrol in northern Syria. Image: U.S. Department of Defense/Free Public Domain

His plan to distract from domestic problems through political success has failed

After President Erdogan was rebuffed by Russian President Putin and Iranian President Ruhani for his plans in the northwestern province of Idlib, further refugee flows from this region toward the Turkish border can be expected. Now he tries it with a new one "Refugee Summit" with German Chancellor Merkel, Putin and French President Macron.

From them he wants to get support for the settlement of 3 million Syrian refugees in the self-administered zone of northern Syria. Otherwise, he will open the gates to Europe. In the direction of the USA, he threatened that if the USA did not invade Turkey within 2 weeks, Turkey would do it on its own.

However, the chances of implementation are slim: Meanwhile, European delegations from the ministries of foreign affairs are making a beeline for the region, which is self-governed by the resident Kurdish and Arab population. Most recently, a delegation from the French and German ministries was on site for talks.

The U.S. ared the SDF of more weapons and vehicles in the fight against IS. Erdogan’s plan to use political successes to distract attention from domestic problems has failed. More and more AKP deputies leave the party.

Rejection of Putin and Ruhani

Last Monday, Erdogan met with Putin and Ruhani in Ankara to stop the Syrian army’s offensive in Idlib. But the contrasts could not be more stark: While Erdogan wants to save his Islamist allies and the radical Islamist organization HTS from defeat and prevent new flows of refugees into Turkey, Putin sees the Islamists – rightly – as a "terrorist threat" and supports the Syrian president Assad in his offensive.

President Ruhani also indirectly supports Assad through pro-Iranian groups. Erdogan was shown clear limits by Putin: By buying the Russian S-400 air defense system, Erdogan has not bought a guarantee of a common line in auben policy. On the contrary. The purchase of the weapon system will even increase Turkey’s dependence on Russia and reduce its political freedom of movement "not only in Syria, but also in the Caucasus, the Balkans and other regions", said Kerim Has, an expert on Turkish-Russian relations, in the Tagesspiegel.

The Middle East expert of the British think tank Henry Jackson Society at King’s College in London, Simon Waldman, said Turkic sensitivities on Syria were of no interest to Putin. Russia’s priority is a military victory of Assad, he said.

Erdogan threatens the EU

In view of the rising numbers of migrants – among them an increasing number of citizens from Turkey – the EU states are looking worriedly at the developments in the Middle East. Erdogan sees this as a (last?) chance to achieve his occupation of all of northern Syria after all. He now plans to hold a conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emanuel Macron. Referring to the feared flow of refugees from Idlib, he calls for support for his often announced conquest of the Arab-Kurdish autonomous regions in northeastern Syria.

There he would like to accommodate the three million Syrians who are in Turkey. What he does not mention is that this has resulted in a new war and at least as many Kurdish, Christian, Yezidi refugees. For in the region, in addition to the multi-ethnic and -religious population, there are over a million internally displaced persons who have fled from IS, and 300,000 people from the canton of Afrin occupied by Turkey – fled from the marauding, torturing, murdering Turks and their Islamist allies.

Erdogan’s goal is, in the spirit of the then dictator Hafiz al-Assad, the father of Bashar al-Assad, to establish an Arab-Sunni belt on the border with Turkey and to expel the opposition Kurdish population, but also all other ethnic groups and religious minorities. One can only hope that Europeans will see through Erdogan’s milquetoast calculation: He gets rid of 3 million refugees, creates a border belt under his protectorate that suits him, pacifies his dissatisfied burghers at home, and in the process creates at least as many refugees, who will then make their way back to Europe just as well.

His threat to Europe: If Europe does not play along, he will open the gates again for the smugglers. There was a small foretaste in the last days, when suddenly again hundreds of boat refugees from Turkey landed daily on the Greek islands. In August alone, the UN Refugee Agency paid about 9300 new arrivals who landed on the Greek islands via Turkey. This was the highest number since the European-Turkish refugee agreement came into force in March 2016, writes the Tagesspiegel.

The general commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Mazlum Abdi Kobane, explains Erdogan’s tactics as follows:

He wants to divide Syria and change its demographic structure…We all want the refugees to return…They should return to the places from which they fled. But for this to happen, there must be peace and a ceasefire. What Erdogan says is something else. He wants to get rid of the three million Syrian refugees in Turkey, of whom only ten percent come from northern Syria, and settle them in the border strip. He wants to rub the land of the ancestral population and build houses for the refugees.

He also wants to provide them with land for cultivation so that they can settle down. This land is already being cultivated by its rightful owners, the local population. In our region, there is not a single free space. The countries have their owners, all of whom are farmers. But as in Afrin, Erdogan’s goal is to occupy the region, drive the indigenous population into flight, and divide the land among others. We will not accept the demographic change that is intended by this at any time.

Erdogan claims that 300.000 people to Afrin "returned" Are. That is correct. He has 300.000 people driven out of Afrin and replaced by 300.000 other persons replaced. This will not happen again. People from our region who have not been involved in crimes and have not joined IS or al-Nusra can return. The judiciary will judge those who have committed crimes…

Mazlum Abdi Kobane

If Erdogan’s real concern was to enable those who have fled to return to their homes, he could contact the Syrian authorities on how to organize an orderly return and ensure that people actually return to their homes.

President Assad has ied a general amnesty, which is also to apply to deserters inside and outside the country. Men who have evaded compulsory military service by fleeing are said to have "unpunished" However, it was left open whether they would still have to do their military service. Excluded from the amnesty decree were offenses such as: armed acts against the state, collaboration with foreign states, membership in armed groups, convictions for drug and/or weapons smuggling.

It is unclear where the Syrian government locates the residents of self-rule, whether collaboration with the anti-IS alliance and the U.S., for example, as a "Collaboration with foreign states" is interpreted as. However, if it can be amed that 90 percent of Syrian refugees come from Assad-ruled territory, there is no need to occupy and settle 3 million refugees in northern and eastern Syria…

Erdogan hopes for Trump’s fickleness

Next week, Erdogan plans to meet with U.S. President Trump on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. There, he plans to convince Trump that he is "Sanctuary" The Syrian leader has a different vision of the northeast of Syria: not the 5 kilometers where his militaries were allowed to patrol only on narrowly defined routes under the supervision of the U.S. military and the military council of the self-government, he wants to dominate the whole northeast from Afrin to Derik in a width of at least 40 km all by himself.

Speaking in Ankara, Erdogan said, "If there is no agreement with Washington in the next two weeks, the Turkish army will enter Syria on its own and set up the zone according to its ideas".

At an event in Istanbul, Erdogan declared that Turkey could not agree to any solution that did not include direct control by its soldiers. However, the U.S. maintains the security zone negotiated between them, Turkey and the self-government of northern Syria.

Last Wednesday, a U.S. Defense Department official confirmed the U.S. would continue to provide weapons and vehicles to the Kurdish Defense Forces (SDF) in northeastern Syria. "We continue to provide appropriate weapons and vehicles to the SDF", Chris Maier, director of the Defense Department’s Working Group on Combating Jihadists, said. Everything is very transparent, because Turkey receives a monthly report on which weapons and vehicles are involved.

The aim is to prevent a resurgence of the IS, Maier explained. There had already been five joint helicopter flights by the U.S. and Turkish militaries and a first joint ground patrol on 8. Maier countered the Turks’ demands by saying that the government had already given the go-ahead on September 1.

Delegations of European parliamentarians visit northeastern Syria

Slowly, Europe seems to realize that there can be no peace without the Arab-Kurdish autonomous administration of northern and eastern Syria. After France, the Danish government has now also decided to deploy troops in northern Syria as part of the anti-IS coalition. This was announced by Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen at a press conference. This involves transportation, medical support and intelligence tasks.

Diplomacy also seems to be moving slowly. Numerous delegations have visited the region in recent weeks. In mid-September, a British delegation of parliamentarians from the Conservative Party, the Labor Party, and trade unions traveled to Ain Issa for talks with representatives of the autonomous self-government. They also visited the city of Kobane, which has become famous worldwide because the Kurdish self-defense units YPG/YPJ with U.S. support successfully defended the city against IS in 2015.

Turkey, on whose border the town is located, prohibited any aid and instead supported IS with weapons and logistics. In Kobane, the delegation held talks with representatives of the municipality about the threats of attack from Turkey and the danger posed by activated IS cells. In Qamishlo, they held talks with the civil society organization TEV-DEM, representatives of various professional associations, women’s bureaus and human rights organizations.

The TEV-DEM chairmen informed the delegation how the autonomy administration organizes the coexistence of the different peoples and faiths. After the talks, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, MP for the Labor Party, explained:

We are here today as representatives of two major parties of Great Britain … We all agree on the heroic deeds of the people of this region to protect the world from danger. We will present our views on the IS members in custody to the British Parliament. We support the establishment of an international court in the region. We will support the autonomy administration in its construction work and services. There is much we can learn from the autonomy administration.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Labor Party MP

In early September, a delegation from the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs visited Ain Issa. They met with the two co-chairs of the Autonomous Administration’s Foreign Affairs Department, Abdulkarim Omar and Emel Dada, and Cihan Xidro, chairwoman of the Women’s Committee. The discussion also focused on the establishment of an international court for IS members detained in the region and the repatriation of IS families.

As early as June, John Phillip, a representative of the Australian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, visited the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Autonomous Administration in Qamishlo. Also in June, a delegation from the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs visited northern Syria and held talks with the autonomy administration, the women’s organization Kongreya Star and an institution for war-disabled people. Among the delegates was a representative of the Stockholm International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

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