Turkey follows Lebanon and starts to restrict numbers of refugees from Syria

Turkey follows Lebanon and starts to restrict numbers of refugees from Syria
by Martin Jay

12 June 2015 | 12:05

Source: by Annahar/ AFP

  • by Martin Jay
  • Source: Annahar/ AFP
  • Last update: 12 June 2015 | 12:05

Turkey has reached its breaking point in the number of refugees in can take from Syria, following a week whereby it took over 9000 at its border posts.

And now, like Lebanon, Ankara said it was taking measures to limit the flow of Syrian refugees onto its territory.

Under an "open-door" policy championed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has taken in 1.8 million Syrian refugees since the conflict in Syria erupted in 2011 costing an estimated $5.5bn since the start of the war.

Arguably though Turkey is not entirely whiter-than-white when it comes to its role in the war as many of its critics charge it with indirectly supporting ISIS militants fighting there, by allowing illegal black market sales of super cheap diesel oil to be sold and distributed in southern Turkey and in return up to one billion dollars in goods to be shipped to the militants – some quite bizarre 'spoils of war' like Red Bull energy drinks.

President Erdogan also wants to both capitalize on his relations with the West and being as NATO member but also to take advantage of its regional alliances for its own profit. His chief aim in the conflict is to bully the US into agreeing to instigate a no fly zone in northern Syria and to allow the Turks to manage a 'buffer zone' where all of the refugees would be held. But so far Washington won't agree to such a plan as few in the US capital trust the Turkish leader to not abuse the buffer zone for his own capital which could mean as a military base to manipulate – and perhaps even attack – Kurdish forces in the North of Syria.
Currently, few analysts can predict what the outcome of last Sunday's election could be in terms of forging better relations with Turkey's huge Kurdish population – and, in addition, to the Kurdish fighters in Syria.

A Turkish official told AFP that in the last week 7,000 refugees had fled to Turkey to escape the fighting and another 6,600 had joined them since Wednesday.
Kurdish forces are currently locked in bitter clashes with Islamic State (IS) jihadists for the area bordering Turkey.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus visited on Wednesday the Akcakale border crossing in southern Turkey, where the main influx has been concentrated.

"Turkey will not accept entries onto its territory from Syria except in case of a humanitarian tragedy," he said, quoted by local media.

However, the Turkish official told AFP that these measures did not put in question Turkey's open door-policy towards Syrian refugees.

"The restrictions formulated by the local authorities are temporary and local," the official said.
Kurtulmus also reaffirmed the government's anger against EU countries that have only accepted a handful of refugees while Turkey has taken the lion's share of the burden.

"These states mobilize when just five refugees arrive at their borders but continue to be mere spectators at the efforts employed by Turkey," he said.

The Kurdish forces aim to wrest control of Tel Abyad -- opposite Akcakale -- in order to free up passage from Kobane, on the Turkish frontier, to Qamishli which is close to the Iraqi border.

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