The Syrian war has yet again taken an ugly turn, and this time it has put Europe at the risk of a major refugee crisis of the kind that it had witnessed in 2015. This time around Turkey has opened the floodgates of refugees towards Europe.
Saying that it had “reached its capacity”, the Erdogan regime in Turkey facilitated the movement of thousands of Syrian and other Arab refugees through the Greek and Bulgarian borders. These migrants have laid siege to the European borders as thousands are crossing in hours.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said, “Significant numbers of migrants and refugees have gathered in large groups at the Greek-Turkish land border and have attempted to enter the country illegally. I want to be clear: no illegal entries into Greece will be tolerated.
Bulgaria and Greece have cracked down on thousands of refugees coming in from Turkey. Meanwhile, Greece has accused Ankara of an organised “onslaught”. Greek Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis said, “They (the migrants) didn’t come here on their own. They are being sent away and being used by (our) neighbour, Turkey.”
Meanwhile, Turkey President and wannabe Caliphate, Erdogan has said, “We will not keep our borders closed because the EU isn’t keeping its promises.” The Turkish President is essentially referring to the 2016 pact with the European Union whereby Ankara is bound to halt the flow of refugees to Europe in return for financial aid.
However, Erdogan has subtly alleged that the European Union is not keeping its promise. He said, “We will not close these doors in the coming period and this will continue…Why? The European Union needs to keep its promises. We are not obliged to look after and feed so many refugees. If you’re honest, if you’re sincere, then you need to share.”
While Erdogan is hinting that the European Union might not be honouring its commitment in the backdrop of increasing refugee inflow into Turkey, this development comes largely in the context of the recent confrontation between the Syrian government forces and the Turkish troops.
33 Turkish troops were killed in the Syrian government attack in opposition-held northwestern Syria, in a major escalation of the conflict. After the attack on the Turkish side, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held an emergency meeting on the situation in Idlib at his presidential complex, attended by ministers and military officials.
The skirmishes between Russia backed Syrian forces and the Turkish troops have brought Moscow and Ankara to the brink of first big war in the region in the last two decades.
Turkey being a NATO member, the Erdogan regime pressed for the establishment of a no-fly zone even as it sought aid from the NATO alliance given the heightened tensions between Ankara and Moscow. But NATO sources disclosed that no discussion took place on the idea which could lead to direct confrontation with the Russian Air Force. The NATO though expressed ‘full solidarity’- something that doesn’t suffice for Erdogan.
It seems that in order to garner the support of NATO allies in Europe and North America, Ankara has once again brought up the refugees threat. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise given that it is the ninth time that Erdogan has threatened to push refugees into Europe. The only difference being that this time around Turkey loaded thousands of them in Mercedes-Benz buses and landed them at the borders with Greece and Bulgaria.
Turkey has been using the 3.7 million refugees in the country to extort whatever it wants out of Europe. Last year, when the Turkish forces and proxies went on a rampage during a military incursion into North-eastern Syria and the European Union condemned its actions, Erdogan had threatened that he would open the gates for refugees to enter Europe if the military action was described as an invasion.
Erdogan has therefore found a strong bargaining chip in the 3.7 million refugees in the country. He is using the refugees to settle score with the European leaders who do not seem to share very good equations with the wannabe Caliphate.
Britain, Germany and France- all three big European powers in the Continent share a sense of acrimony with Ankara. After Turkey’s incursion of North-eastern Syria, the United Kingdom, France and Germany had even halted arms exports to the country.
France, in particular, has been very vocal in its criticism of Turkey’s Islamism that the former continues to see as antagonistic to the “indivisibility of the Republic”.
Erdogan’s antics too have led to ugly diplomatic jibes being shared. He accused French President, Emmanuel Macron of suffering “brain death” last year, which led to France summoning the Turkish envoy.
Moreover, France has also accused Turkey of not abiding by what it promised at the Berlin Conference on January 19 this year where world leaders decided to stay out of the Libyan conflict.
Whenever Turkey wants to cajole something out of the European countries, it uses the refugee threat. The present crisis is very much similar. The only difference is that the intensity of the threat is greater and Ankara is a lot more desperate given the deteriorating relations with European powers and huge losses to the tune of dozens of its soldiers in Syria.