Kurds In Syria, And The EU

The news is all about how Turkey is attacking the Kurds in Syria. It is probably true because the Kurdish independence movement in Turkey is a banned terrorist organisation. It’s banned because the Kurds would like to hive off a part of Turkey and Syria and declare it their homeland and a new state.

But the news is missing something. Turkey has been complaining for months that the EU is not paying the contribution it promised Turkey for playing host to the Syrian refugees in Turkey – currently about 3.6 million of them. So Turkey has invaded Syria to create a safe zone it can tip the refugees into, and to be able to turn to the world and tell them it’s their problem.

Turkey is trying to solve two problems at once – remove the refugees and under the guise of that to neutralise the Kurds.

The news also missed that Greece has been complaining to the EU about the same thing – that the EU is not paying what it promised for the upkeep of the refugees.

There is a question also as to whether some or perhaps most of the refugees are in fact economic migrants who see the opportunity to create a better life in Europe. It’s clear that the refugees or economic migrants, if that is what they are, do not want to stay in Turkey: They want to come to Europe.

The whole reason that the EU agreed to pay towards the upkeep in the first place was because Turkey threatened to open its northern borders and just let the refugees/migrants through if the EU didn’t see it as an international problem.

Another snippet of news is that EU representatives were in Turkey last week trying to hammer something out. They were also in Greece because Greece has the same refugee problem on a smaller scale. There were riots on the island of Lesbos last week. Greece’s refugee problem won’t be on a smaller scale if Turkey opens its borders.

The next step along the way from Turkey to Europe is via Greece. Then it is a short hop across the Aegean to Italy, or a long walk via Bulgaria, Romania, and then to Hungary. But Hungary with its hard Right Government bent on repulsing the refugees / economic migrants, means that Italy is the soft spot on the route north.

Is the EU paying its share

In 2016 the EU struck a deal with Turkey under which the EU could start sending illegal immigrants back to Turkey and Turkey would play host to those immigrants / economic migrants / refugees sent back and to the ones that were within its borders. In return, the EU would look at relaxing visa requirements for Turkish citizens wanting to get into Europe; would speed up negotiations on Turkey’s EU membership. and it would pay for the upkeep of the immigrants / economic migrants / refugees in Turkey.

Amnesty UK tweeted then that it was ‘a dark day for the refugee convention, a dark day for Europe and a dark day for humanity.’

Three years down the line and the EU complains that Turkey has not implemented the EU’s requirements on human rights upon which the negotiations on Turkey’s EU membership depended.

Turkey, for its part, complains that the EU has not paid what it owes.

Would Turkey ever be allowed into the EU? I seem to recall that one of the arguments for Britain withdrawing from the EU was that ‘hordes’ of Turks would ‘invade’ Europe. Is the immigrant / economic migrant / refugee deal just a stop gap, a way of kicking the can down the road while other means of stopping them are developed?

What are those other means? To make their home countries safe again? How is that working out?

So where are we?

Turkey wants rid of Kurdish statehood ambitions, but it also wants rid of its 3.6 million Syrian refugees / asylum seekers / economic migrants / (choose your epithet according to your understanding) – and the EU hasn’t (according to Turkey) been paying what it promised under the 2016 agreement whereby Turkey would host the Syrian refugees rather than allow them onwards into Europe.

Under that 2016 agreement, Turkey would even take in those who has already made it to the EU and which the EU could now send back to Turkey.

The EU was also supposed to fast-track Turkey’s accession to the EU and meanwhile relax visa requirements for Turks. Turkey’s human rights record is going the ‘wrong’ way, so the EU is upset (and is secretly happy to continue to be upset because many EU countries would veto Turkey’s accession under any scenario).

So this way, Turkey sets up a buffer zone in northern Syria and will send the Syrian refugees there and under the guise of that it will ‘alleviate’ its Kurdish independence problem. It’s a messy world, and the EU will get its way without having to pay any more to Syria.

Where Is The Kurds Homeland

Kurdistan is a high plateau and mountainous region covering a large part of eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, and western Iran and smaller areas in the north of Syria and Armenia.

Iran recognises the province of Kurdistan within its country’s borders and Iraq recognises the Kurdish autonomous region within its country’s borders. No one recognises Kurdistan as an independent country.

map of Kurdistan showing how it covers a large part of eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, and western Iran and smaller areas in the north of Syria and Armenia.