The migration agreement of European Union with Turkey is almost breaking apart just after Receb Tayyib Erdogan, the president of Turkey, announced that Turkey would step back from the original deal of 2016, which had seen Turkey committing to stop Syrian refugees heading to Europe, triggering now an old fear of having a new crisis affecting the just-divorced European Union.
The Syrian crisis has always had two faces, the internal and international one, apart from the civil war, and many international players supported diverse groups to achieve their own strategic objectives. Many times these two faces are combining hazardously so that their destructive consequences affect more than only the Middle East.
The ongoing crisis of Idlib has the potential of turning into a geopolitical critical point. The war between Ankara and Damascus cannot continue with impartial behaviour from Moscow, which is very much involved in the Syrian conflict. Even though the very recent meeting between Erdogan and Vladimir Putin was emphasizing on the good relations between two, in reality the current tension in Idlib has not a very clear outcome yet. What is certain however is that all these tensions will be resulting in another humanitarian crisis in the lands where people are already suffering from a heavy dislocation.
Using accusations that the European Union is not fulfilling its part of agreement, Turkey has made the same threat many times before. However things have now changed by the very recent events in Idlib, which resulted in the death of many Turkish soldiers along with another wave of displaced people moving toward Turkish borders to try and escape from yet another wave of death.
The multibillion-Euro treaty between Ankara and European Union in 2016 had an effective result on dropping the number of people crossing the Aegean Sea to Greece. However in the past week the Greek border has been witness to thousands of new arrivals, aimed at getting inside the Europe from Greece. The confrontation between border guards and asylum seekers has indeed one more time brought back the international attentions on the difficulties of the life of civilians in Syria and especially in Idlib. However, this attention is not sustained by the compassion for the humanitarian crisis, but rather by the concerns over another wave of mass migration in European Union which already brought many fragilities in the governments of the individual members of the Union.
What is happening in Idlib is not a new story and surely the civilians will not have a better future as a result of a victory from either side. In fact, in any case there will be people looking for a shelter out of their home country.
The arguments between Turkey and European Union based on who is more committed to the accord of 2016 with the fund of 6 billion Euro will not change the reality that the Syrian crisis is losing its importance for the international community as if it does not exist anymore. Funding Greece to protect its borders to counter Turkey’s action of letting migrants enter Europe, would be just another temporary solution for the conflict that is not a decisive one. European Union is being directly affected by the crisis of Syria, and Turkey by leveraging this very soft spot is taking its steps to achieve its national interests, also persuaded by the full acknowledgement that European Union would not react firmly. What is happening in Idlib might perhaps be a wake-up call for international community and especially European Union to start working on a more practical and permanent solution to overcome the never-ending conflict in Syria.
(You can read the last article by Ghazal Poorhasan here)