Visit our new website: worldnews.easybranches.com

Turkey fears further refugee influx as Assad threatens Idlib offensive

  • Sat, 11 Aug 2018 02:04
Author: 
Menekse Tokyay
ID: 
1533922032427128300
Fri, 2018-08-10 20:26

ANKARA: Amid news of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime’s current preparations for a military operation in the opposition-held northwestern province of Idlib, experts anticipate a massive influx of civilians into neighboring Turkey. There are currently around 2.5 million displaced civilians in Idlib, according to the UN.

Idlib is designated as a de-escalation zone by Turkey, Russia and Iran, and Turkish Armed Forces have so far built 12 observation posts in the region, as part of the Astana deal that was brokered between the three countries. The majority of Idlib is currently held by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), which is led by Al-Qaeda’s former Syrian affiliate, the extremist militant group Jabhat Al-Nusra.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected to visit Ankara on Aug. 13 to hold talks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on recent developments in Syria.

Experts interviewed by Arab News underline the need to resolve this imminent crisis with regional and international partners diplomatically. The UN will ask Ankara to keep its borders open to the refugees fleeing the regime attack on Idlib, according to press reports.

Metin Corabatir, a former spokesman for the UN refugee agency UNHCR in Turkey and president of the Research Center on Asylum and Migration in Ankara, thinks that, as there could be armed elements among the refugees, Turkey may decide against taking them in, due to domestic security concerns.

“Ankara should negotiate with their international partners over this humanitarian situation, and ask that the burden be shared, rather than struggling alone with a potential refugee influx,” he told Arab News.

Besides security concerns, Turkey’s economic downturn, and a surge of anti-refugee public sentiment also mean Ankara will likely be unwilling to open its borders to refugees from Idlib. Turkey already hosts over 3.5 million Syrian refugees, according to the latest figures.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are expected to meet in September, and the refugee issue will top Turkey’s agenda for that meeting.

Corabatir believes that any military offensive by the Syrian regime in Idlib would draw Turkey into the conflict.

“Turkey will either protect the security of its military personnel in the observation towers, or decide to withdraw from the area where it is a guarantor country — which would mean the collapse of the Astana deal,” he said.

Sinan Hatahet, a senior fellow at Al-Sharq Forum in Istanbul, said Ankara is worried that an attack on Idlib will provoke a new influx of refugees, at a time when it is seeking to stabilize northern Aleppo to accommodate repatriated refugees from southern Turkey.

“Moreover, Ankara does not wish to host more Syrian refugees as their integration is increasingly becoming a topic of heated debate on the domestic scene,” he told Arab News.

According to Hatahet, Ankara does not consider all areas of Idlib to be of equal importance, and does not intend to maintain a presence beyond a narrow buffer along its borders.

“Ultimately, Turkey will seek a grand bargain in the north and would not shy away from using Idlib as a bargaining chip in exchange for stabilizing Afrin and the Euphrates Shield areas,” he noted.

Experts suggest that Turkey will expect Russia to restrain Assad’s potential offensive in Idlib. Russia, however, prioritizes the extermination of extremists in the region. Lavrov recently stated that it was “necessary to deal a final blow to terrorists near Idlib.”

Hatahet believes Turkey and Russia could arrange a deal whereby Russia is able to attack extremists in Idlib, but will otherwise remain on the periphery of the territory.

“Erdogan recently spoke to Putin and warned him that targeting civilians in Idlib could destroy the spirit of the Astana accord,” he said, but added that Assad’s regime is growing in confidence and that containing its forces is no easy task.

Main category: 
Syrian troops shell Idlib, drop leaflets ahead of assaultSyrian army urges people in Idlib to agree return of state rule Middle-East

Tags


Harvard Business Review

Related Stories

Turkey, Russia Agree on Borders of Idlib Demilitarized Zone
  • Sat, 22 Sep 2018 02:33

Ankara and Moscow reached an agreement on Friday on the borders of the demilitarized zone to be set up in Syria’s Idlib region, announced the Turkis...

Rohingya refugee children in Bangladesh get doves of peace from the Middle East
  • Fri, 21 Sep 2018 06:04

Author: Thu, 2018-09-20 23:12 DUBAI: Eight-year-old Anjuman, living in Camp 7 at Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, has recei...

Thousands head home in Syria’s Idlib after deal, says monitor
  • Thu, 20 Sep 2018 05:03

Author: Wed, 2018-09-19 23:31 BEIRUT, MOSCOW: Thousands of residents of Syria’s last major opposition bastion Idlib headed home within 48 hour...

Missile attack in Syria targets Assad stronghold Latakia
  • Tue, 18 Sep 2018 05:51

Mon, 2018-09-17 22:18 BEIRUT: Missiles were fired at several locations in the Syrian coastal city of Latakia on Monday but were intercepted and downe...

Last stand: Syria’s rebel Idlib prepares for a losing battle
  • Mon, 17 Sep 2018 20:15

Author: APID: 1537162475164763200Mon, 2018-09-17 (All day) BEIRUT: They dug trenches around towns, reinforced caves for cover and put up sa...

Yemen coalition resumes offensive to liberate Hodeidah after Houthis reject peace talks
  • Mon, 17 Sep 2018 12:54

Author: Mon, 2018-09-17 01:40 JEDDAH: The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has resumed its offensive to liberate the vital Red Sea port of Hodeidah ...

Kurds opt out of Assad regime’s first municipal polls since 2011
  • Mon, 17 Sep 2018 12:21

Author: AFP, APID: 1537141359341756000Tue, 2018-09-18 02:41 DAMASCUS: Syria held its first municipal elections since 2011 on Sunday, amid t...

Erdogan says US behind economic attack on Turkey
  • Fri, 14 Sep 2018 20:14

Author: ReutersID: 1536915512521436300Fri, 2018-09-14 08:51ISTANBUL: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday blamed the United States for...

UN shares locations of Idlib hospitals and schools
  • Fri, 14 Sep 2018 12:09

Author: Thu, 2018-09-13 23:07 GENEVA: UN officials have notified Russia, Turkey and the US of the GPS coordinates of 235 schools, hospitals and ...

Turkey court rejects plea to open Hagia Sophia for Islamic prayer
  • Thu, 13 Sep 2018 23:58

Author: AFPID: 1536846380085192700Thu, 2018-09-13 12:59 ISTANBUL: Turkey’s top court on Thursday turned down a plea to open the Hagia Sof...

Diplomats from Iran, Russia, Turkey meet UN envoy on Syria
  • Wed, 12 Sep 2018 02:00

Author: Associated PressID: 1536662206939212400Tue, 2018-09-11 (All day) GENEVA: The UN envoy for Syria hosted key diplomats from Iran, Rus...

‘Great fear’ in Idlib ahead of looming offensive: Health chief
  • Sun, 09 Sep 2018 13:19

Author: AFPID: 1536444738820204100Sun, 2018-09-09 01:11 GENEVA: There is “great fear” among residents and medical workers in Idlib as t...


الاقسام