Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has allowed thousands of refugees to pass through his country’s Tazarkule border with Greece, creating a security nightmare for his neighbours.
By taking this course of action not only is Erdogan conducting irregular warfare using refugees as unwitting pawns but he is jeopardizing the stability of Turkey itself.
Having discharged a human wave by relaxing control of Turkey’s military zone the Mad Turk has broken his 2016 pledge to the European Union to shelter refugees until the situation recovers. His hostile act confirms that he is, unlike the much-maligned Bashar al-Assad, a global villain.
The announcement came more than a week ago as Russian-backed Syrian Government Forces staged an air offensive in Syria’s northwest Idlib province where Turkish troops are pinned down. Dozens of Turks were killed and close to a million Syrian refugees made their way towards the Turkish border.
Remarkably, the EU is askance at millions of refugees potentially overwhelming member states. Typically, it advocates for every fake refugee on two legs and condemns those affected nations that complain when asylum seekers flood their borders. However, European Commission President Ursula Von Der Layan issued a blunt warning to Turkey not to “test Europe’s unity”. We’re not sure what that means but we’re confident it’s being tested. In fact, once again poor old Greece stands alone between Erdogan and his unleashing the prophetic ‘Camp of the Saints’ scenario on Europe in its entirety.
Thousands of migrants and their families who pressed northwest from Istanbul are shivering at encampments in Edirne and daily clashes have occurred near the village of Kastanies. Dinghies launching from the Turkish coast are reportedly headed to Greek islands where armed and angry locals are waiting to turn them back.
Greek police repelled attempts by up-to 10,000 migrants pushing forward through the border with Turkey by firing tear gas, stun grenades, and water cannons. This move has allowed Erdogan to make bold accusations. Turkey claimed border guards had shot a migrant dead, a charge denied by a Greek official who countered that “Turkey fabricates and channels fake news against our country.”
Turkey’s interior minister Suleyman Soylu reiterated to reporters touring Edirne that Greece had been “mistreating” migrants. He boasted that Turkey was taking a conscientious position. “A thousand special force police officers are deployed to the Meric River on the border, fully equipped, to prevent people being pushed back,” he announced.
Whether this implies forcefully routing retreating migrants isn’t clear, but Erdogan’s intent to create a flashpoint by sandwiching migrants between Greece and Turkey and impugning Greece’s humanitarian commitment is. This shallow attempt to lay blame on Greece is a cunning strategy whereby Erdogan has manifold hopes. On the one hand, he is counting on Greece pressuring the EU leading to international support for his militaristic adventure in Syria, while on the other he is channelling chauvinistic power to his Turanist fantasy of reviving the bygone Ottoman Empire with himself at the helm.
To date, none of Greece’s objections to its refugee problem has concerned EU overlords, but now that Europe faces a humanitarian emergency the implications are plain. While Soylu played propaganda games with reporters on Turkey’s side of the border, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis inspected its hotspot with top EU officials including the European Commissioner and European Council President Charles Michel.
He said that despite the 2016 EU agreement Erdogan has “encouraged and assisted tens of thousands of refugees to illegally enter Greece. It has failed, and will continue to fail, should it continue to pursue this strategy.”
He added, “This is no longer a refugee problem. This is a blatant attempt by Turkey to use desperate people to promote its geopolitical agenda.”
Mitsotakis took the opportunity to remind the EU of its inaction in the face of Greece’s plight. “Europe has not been up to the task of dealing with the migration crisis,” he said. “I hope this crisis will serve as a wake-up call for everyone to assume their responsibilities.”
The message from the European Commissioner was solidarity, doubtless disingenuous to the ears of weary Greeks, whose sovereignty has been so undermined by EU complicity with the soft invasion by refugees.
Ms von der Leyen promised, “The Greek worries are our worries. This is not only a Greek border but it is also a European border, and I stand here today as a European at your side.”
So far, that commitment has entailed little more than throwing money at the problem, with the EU pledging €700m ($1.2bn) in financial support so that Greece can take care of it for them.
Currently, it’s estimated 20,000 refugees are waiting at the border. But Turkey has around 3.5 million Syrian refugees. In Istanbul, much of this human caravan is reportedly well organised with mini-buses and cars ready to transport migrants to the troubled border. Those waiting to cross aren’t necessarily just Syrians, they’re also a mix of Afghan, Moroccan, Pakistani and Bangladeshi. As the country struggles to repulse the human onslaught, human rights groups have been criticising Greece’s methods as ‘heavy-handed’ and questioning whether such a response is not inhumane. To Greece, this is an insult on top of injury.
More of an affront, Turkey is preparing a case against Greece to be heard at the European Court of Human Rights, alleging Greek forces wounded 164 people as nearly 5000 invaders were shunted back into Turkey. They don’t say anything about shoving thousands of people across a border into a tiny country already creaking under the weight of an unresolved refugee crisis.
On the island of Lesbos alone, 20,000 migrants living in filthy conditions are waiting in overcrowded camps, as Greece is forced to process more and more asylum claims. With Erdogan’s stunt, the Greeks have finally lost all patience and called a halt to new asylum applications for at least a month. Meanwhile, those on its Aegean islands will be transferred to the mainland, all newcomers will be sent straight back to where they came from.
Those at the frontline of the refugee invasion have even less patience and citizen patrols by Greek locals — along with the police — have begun near the Turkish border; their sole intent is to turn back those wanting to try their luck crossing. Locals affected by the human tide have expressed their anger at both the so-called refugees and the UN. At the port of Thermi locals blocked boats carrying refugees while furiously shouting “Go back to turkey”. A representative for the local UN refugees’ agency came in for a barrage of abuse as journalists were attacked and photographers had their cameras thrown into the water. As of Sunday, a warehouse on the island of Lesbos earmarked for migrants was burned to the ground although nobody was injured. Almost certainly fed-up locals had taken the law into their own hands no longer willing to be crushed under the weight of the uninvited human avalanche. Just a day before migrants tried scaling a fence and threw stones at Greek riot police who responded with tear gas. They were met with a return volley from the Turkish police.
If anything, Erdogan is showing himself to be a desperate man. As ties with their US ally deteriorate, and his forces are facing off with Syrian Government Forces backed by Russia, he is also posed with the problem of angry Kurds once opposed to Assad but now in a co-operative détente with the Syrian government while occupying a quarter of the Syrian landmass including the border with Turkey.
With Turkey’s ties to Russia increasing, entering into headlong conflict with Putin’s forces and potentially NATO might not be such a great idea, thinking that may have persuaded the Mad Turk to compromise. It is the firm view of the Russian President that Assad is the legitimate ruler of Syria and it’s, therefore, his right to reclaim control over his country’s territory while smashing his armed opponents.
On Friday, in north-western Syria, Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin shook hands on a ceasefire with the two consenting to joint patrols on the M4 highway connecting Aleppo to Russian maritime and air bases on the Mediterranean coast.
As the two stood side-by-side in a grip-and-grin for reporters, Putin said, “We do not always agree with our Turkish partners in our assessments of what is happening in Syria, but every time at critical moments, relying on the achieved high level of bilateral relations, we have so far been able to find common ground on the disputed issues that have arisen, and come to acceptable solutions. Such as happened this time.”
That remains to be seen, as a previous ceasefire did not hold, and Erdogan’s ego wouldn’t allow him to back down. This is why another of Turkey’s neighbours threatened by the surge of migrants from the border with Greece is receiving different treatment.
Bulgaria shares the same border with Turkey but has an entirely different attitude to illegal migrants. It isn’t known to welcome them with open arms and therefore wouldn’t make very good propaganda material for Ankara.
Instead, Erdogan met with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, agreeing to curb illegal immigration into the Turkish-Bulgarian border. However, Borisov had planned a greater diplomatic mission, hoping for a sit down with both the Turkish president and Greek Prime Minister. That was not possible.
Turkey claims the EU has failed to uphold commitments regarding the millions of refugees still in Turkey, and on the surface, he may have a point. Expecting the EU to honour any promise about anything is like putting all your money on a rocking horse to win the Melbourne Cup. Then again, if Erdogan doesn’t want refugees then aggressive military incursions into his neighbour’s country have pretty much guaranteed them, a point which makes it fairly obvious Erdogan is being about as straight with the world as the EU is with Greece and Turkey. Assad has declared that it’s safe enough for refugees to return to Syria and has urged them to do so. Yet, the west and those in Europe, regardless of this objection by the EU to Erdogan’s tactics, are promoting a counter-narrative.
Just how did all of this get started anyway? One only has to turn to that mythical ‘Arab Spring’, funded by billionaire criminal George Soros and surreptitiously run by the CIA and you have your answer.
Supposedly ‘peaceful protesters’ called for the overthrow of Assad in March 2011 an act which didn’t mesh with the democratic sensibilities of the Zionist West. When Assad’s regime responded with force, the agitators unleashed a series of factions whose allegiances would chop and change over the next nine years, all but destroying Syria. America and Israel had backed many of them both transparently and covertly, going so far as to provide arms to their supposed enemy ISIS. Eventually, the US became actively involved, and the situation in Syria predictably degenerated into one big complex rotten mess in which the western media turned Assad into a caricature of evil personified. When the US pulled the pin on their Syrian campaign Turkey took the baton, as they’d been itching to do, and the tanks rolled in.
On a contemplative note, one wonders why the US had it in for Assad so badly. We know it dates back to historic differences with Bashar al-Assad’s father and former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, but they seem piqued that Assad would suppress an uprising that intended to ‘peacefully’ oust him, just when he was doing so well. But America has punished its own citizens for less, what about Kent State in 1970? Four were killed and nine injured when the National Guard opened fire on unarmed student protesters. That’s just one little incident which made any claim by America to be pursuing a humanitarian military mission (sic) a croc. Their train became derailed when a defiant Putin came to the aid of Assad and America blinked. Besides, it was just one more foreign interference draining the US purse, for which ordinary Americans had no understanding of their involvement.
As to Erdogan, in the end, he is motivated by historical grievances, and mostly against Europe. Just how much heat he has unleashed on Turkey is yet to be seen but the game he’s playing could well lead to a Turkish Spring with Kurds on one side, no friends on the other, and an internal political meltdown. This is not forgetting the millions of refugees waiting to break through to Europe and who are no doubt getting on the nerves of the civic population. Their potential for creating unrest within Turkey’s borders shouldn’t be dismissed.
Erdogan sees no choice but to hold Europe entirely responsible and his desire to wreak human chaos via a soft invasion is just another facet of his intricate agenda, and his motives, in this case, are less easily classifiable. See, he never quite forgave Christendom for Vlad the Impaler, and it’s because of Vlad that he is bent on this most headstrong course. That’s the truth about the Mad Turk.