Ankara using Syrian refugees as a political tool – Guardian

Syrians are once again being used as political tools in Turkey’s offensive in northern Syria, where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan plans to resettle up to 3 million of the country’s 3.6 Syrian refugees, the Guardian said on Saturday citing refugees living in Turkey.

Erdoğan is hoping to establish a corridor with an initial depth of 30km (18 miles) and a length of 480 km, enabling the settlement of the Syrian Arab refugees into a mainly Kurdish territory that is cleared of Kurdish militia.

A Turkish operation launched an operation on Oct. 9, targeting the war-torn country’s Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), has killed hundreds of fighters and civilians while forcing tens of thousands to flee. The offensive was paused on Thursday for a five-day ceasefire in exchange for Washington’s promise for the withdrawal the YPG from territories along Turkish border where Turkey wants to establish said zone.

Ankara had threatened to “open the gates” and allow a flood of Syrian refugees to leave Turkey for Western countries unless a so-called “safe zone” was established.

“Filling that area with Arabs is demographic engineering that doesn’t take our needs and safety into consideration. My son didn’t go to school for three days last week because his teacher kept telling him ‘It’s time for you to go home.’’’ a Syrian woman living in the border town of Gaziantep told the Guardian.

The plan arrives amid increasing public resentment toward Turkey’s Syrians, who are recognised not as refugees but given “ temporary protection status,” in Turkey. 

A July survey by Turkish polling company PIAR revealed that Syrians are ranked as the country’s second most important problem, following its ailing economy. 

“Erdoğan will use anyone and do anything to hang onto his power. The strategy is cruel. In this case it is leaving even more Syrians dead… But it works,” the woman said. 

As it currently stands, the Guardian said, Erdoğan is now set to get exactly what he wants.