Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Raising Turkish Ire

  • Erdogan accused the EU of 'xenophobia, Islamophobia, and racism' (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)
"While we host 2.2 million refugees, Europe as a whole houses less than 250,000 refugees in total."
"We've done this without any discrimination."
 "What do they say to us? ... 'Oh, my, don't open your doors, don't let them reach us'."
"European countries which turned the Mediterranean Sea — the cradle of ancient civilizations — into a migrant cemetery are party to the crime that takes place when each refugee loses their life."
"European countries which set the criteria for basic human rights and freedoms are now turning their backs to these principles."
"The West's hypocrisy is obvious. As Muslims, we've never taken part in terrorist massacres. Behind these lie racism, hate speech and Islamophobia. The administrations in those countries where our mosques are attacked need to take measures."
"Games are being played with the Islamic world, we need to be aware of this."Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Who precisely is playing games? Turkey's next-door neighbour is Syria. Turkey is a Sunni Islamic nation. The Syrians who seek haven from their butchering president, pre-civil-war a close friend of Mr. Erdogan's, are Sunnis. What could be more natural than a neighbouring Islamic country absorbing the refugees occasioned by mass brutality inflicted on civilians by their own administration? Yet Turkey is aggrieved that Europe is not enthralled with the necessity to take in more Islamic haven-seekers than they already are burdened with.

Syrian refugees are somewhat less than enthusiastic about the social welfare they have received from Turkey. Mr. Erdogan boasts about the vast cost to his nation of providing basic necessities of life to the millions the country opened its borders to. Turkey is also responsible for some of the chaos and misery in peoples' lives coming out of Syria, since Turkey gave haven to Islamic State terrorists as fellow Sunnis engaged in removing the Shiite Alawite government of Syria which has been terrorizing its own civilians.

Yet to hear the Turkish president from Brussels this week, Europe's reception of the flood of Syrian and other refugees and asylum-seekers has fallen short of the standard that Turkey proudly set, spending $7.8 billion for the purpose, while a paltry $417 million given Turkey in support through international aid has barely made a dent in the outlay for Turkey. Turkey, pointed out its president scathingly, has taken in numbers of refugees ten time greater than the European Union.

Donald Tusk responded reasonably enough by emphasizing that: "The EU needs to protect its borders better … We expect Turkey to do the same. The situation where hundreds of thousands are fleeing to the EU via Turkey must be stopped." The leaky Turkish coast where the Mediterranean leads to Greece shipped over 350,000 asylum seekers to Europe in nine months alone this year, while Turkish border authorities halted 50,000 from making the perilous journey.

The European Commission has offered a plan to entice Turkey to make a more concerted effort to maintain its Islamic and humanitarian responsibilities to its neighbours' fleeing refugees: new European funding for Turkey; the speeding up of EU visa-free travel; joint Greek-Turkish border patrols; creation of migrant reception centres in Turkey; and help for refugees to integrate into Turkish society.Turkey is less than impressed; it had no wish to integrate refugees into Turkish society, truth be told.

The bellicose, aggrieved Erdogan agreed that a high-level working group would be launched to investigate all aspects of the migrant crisis, the purpose to be the tightening up of border security, the struggle against smugglers, and Turkey's plan to create 'safe zones' within Syria itself to harbour the haven-seekers. Turkey's unspoken agenda is to wrest already-existing 'safe zones' inside Syria from the effective fighting forces of the Kurds whom he detests.

"This terrorist organisation [PKK or YPG factions] should not be given the chance to achieve some sort of cloak of legitimacy under the guise of fighting ISIS [Islamic State] in Syria", he stated with his usual venom reserved particularly for the Kurds. They are, he claims with considerable relish, terrorists, irrespective of their fight against the Islamic State jihadists. Their success in pushing back ISIL gives little satisfaction to Erdogan whose military is bombing Kurdish camps.

Erdogan spews racist and religious hatred in venomous attacks equal to his contempt for those he accuses of Islamophobia.

Members of the Kurdish community hold a rally outside the Turkish embassy in Paris to protest against the Turkish air force attacks on the PKK military campaigns in Syria and northern Iraq.
Members of the Kurdish community hold a rally outside the Turkish embassy in Paris to protest against the Turkish air force attacks on the PKK military campaigns in Syria and northern Iraq. Photograph: Ian Langsdon/EPA 

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