Kevork Almassian: EU-Turkey refugee deal – A dance with the Devil

Analyst Kevork Almassian

The EU and the Turkish government have reached a controversial ‘one in, one out’ refugee deal which they claim will end the chaotic influx of migrants towards Europe. According to the deal, irregular migrants crossing from Turkey to Greece will be sent back. For every Syrian refugee returned to Turkey from Greece, one Syrian from a Turkish refugee camp –which was built to cover up the process of recruiting and training the terrorists– is to be resettled in the EU. For other nationalities, the route to Europe is entirely cut off.

In return, the EU has promised to speed up plans for Turkish citizens to travel inside the Schengen zone without a visa and to actually pay the AKP government of Turkey the promised $3.3bn. However, Erdogan was not satisfied with the amount and reportedly asked for an extra 3.3bn. It seems that the EU leaders bowed to the pressure of the Godfather of ISIS.

This is an unprecedented and dangerous deal altogether and it does not solve the roots of the refugee crisis which is staged and orchestrated by the Turkish government. The European mainstream media claims that the refugees are fleeing war zones to find a safe haven in the “Old Continent” without addressing the root causes of the problem. In contrast, they blame President Assad or Putin, or anyone except the man whose hands are stained with the blood of tens of thousands of Syrians; the man who supports the most brutal and genocidal terrorist groups in Syria including ISIS and Al-Nusra Front; the man who has neo-Ottoman imperial ambitions not only in the Middle East but also in Europe. This man is called Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

According to Dr. Jamal Wakim, a professor of political science and an expert in Turkish foreign policy, the refugee issue was sparked by the U.S. and Turkey and some accomplice governments in the EU to mobilize the Western public opinion to support a military strike in Syria claiming to be directed against ISIS, but in fact the real aim was to take the green light for a military operation in Syria and divert it against Assad, not against ISIS. However, the Russian intervention in Syria foiled these attempts and directed the efforts against the terrorists. This made the Americans reconsider their strategy and keep pace with the Russians to put a limit on the tension at a time when the U.S. started their election campaign. The European governments also reconsidered their initial strategy and withdrew their promises to integrate the refugees. This is why they turned to Turkey to strike a deal with Erdogan who saw his strategy in the Middle East collapsing after the steadfastness of the Syrian army and the Russian bombardment of the Turkish-backed terrorist groups. Consequently, Erdogan reverted to the Turkish traditional policy by moving towards Europe. In Dr. Wakim’s opinion, the reason why Erdogan accepted to strike a deal where he would accept to relocate the refugees on Turkish soil was to achieve two objectives: First, to keep the refugees as a card for blackmailing the European governments, as he would spark the crisis again if they do not comply with him. Second, he would use the refugees as a political tool to continue threatening Syria with it.

This deal held the EU as a hostage in the hands of the self proclaimed Sultan and showed that Erdogan’s blackmailing policies succeeded to bring 28 EU member states on their knees in front of Turkey. However, the one who should be blamed is not Ankara, but the EU that not only turned a blind eye to Erdogan’s expansionist policies in the MENA region but also promoted him as an example of “democracy” and a “sample” that the Arab and Islamic countries should follow.

Most importantly, the deal is tainted with many deficiencies and unresolved questions. For example, how many people would be exchanged? How soon could it be implemented? What if Turkey does not comply with the terms of the agreement?

Experts in EU-Turkish affairs believe that the full implementation of the deal could take months or may never happen. Why this narrative might be true? Because there is already a readmission scheme agreed in 2002 between Turkey and Greece, but Ankara has always placed obstacles that prevented the full implementation of the agreement. So what makes the current EU-Turkey deal different as long as Erdogan is still stimulating the anti-government terrorists in Syria and causing more refugee influx? And why would Erdogan stop doing what he does when he is able to weaponize the refugee crisis, blackmail the EU and receive cash money worth billions of Euros?

Ironically, instead of the EU countries voicing concerns over Erdogan’s willingness to implement the Ankara-Brussels migration agreement, the Sultan has voiced suspicions over whether the EU will fulfill its promises and grant Turkish citizens visa-free travel in the Schengen zone. “There are precise conditions. If the European Union does not take the necessary steps, then Turkey will not implement the agreement,” said Erdogan from his presidential palace. He added that “everything that has been promised, everything that is specified by the accord,” must be put in place “at the latest” by June 2016.

Why the deal is a moral bankruptcy?

First of all, this deal is 100 per cent in favor of Erdogan’s government which due to its hostile policies shifted Turkey from zero problems policy with neighbors to zero relationship with neighbors. So this deal is basically a desperate step to re-polish the image of the isolated Sultan Erdogan who is considered the godfather of terrorist organizations not only in Syria but also Europe. In this regard, King Abdullah of Jordan (a close ally to the West) accused Turkey of exporting terrorists to Europe at a top level meeting with senior U.S. politicians. The king said Europe’s biggest refugee crisis was not an accident, and neither was the presence of terrorists among them: “The fact that terrorists are going to Europe is part of Turkish policy and Turkey keeps on getting a slap on the hand, but they are let off the hook.” Asked by one of the congressmen present whether ISIS was exporting oil to Turkey, Abdullah replied: “Absolutely.”

In the same context, Can Dündar, the editor-in-chief of Turkey’s most influential dissident newspaper, the “Cumhuriyet, who was arbitrarily imprisoned for criticizing Erdogan, said the EU is betraying its democratic values by seeking a rapprochement with Erdogan in the hope that he would stem the flow of refugees into Europe while ignoring human rights violations inside Turkey. “We always looked at the European Union as an anchor, a model to raise the standard of democracy in Turkey to universal levels, not as leverage to dictatorships,” he said. “Now, if the EU, in order to stop the influx of refugees by turning our lands into a big concentration camp, agrees to turn a blind eye while Erdogan spurns democracy, human rights, freedom of press and rule of law, it means that the EU is discarding its founding principles in order to protect its short-term interests.”

Why the deal is dangerous to the National Security of the EU?

According to Patrick Kingsley of “The Guardian”, this deal could end up encouraging refugees to make the crossing, and discouraging Turkey from blocking their path. If the EU will accept only as many refugees who reach Europe and are then readmitted to Turkey, then both the refugees and the Turks have even more incentive to make sure as many migrants reach Greece in the first place.

Moreover, even if the deterrent works in an entirely efficient manner, it could simply encourage refugees to try different routes – via Bulgaria, the Black Sea, or across the Mediterranean to Italy. With Syrians even crossing the Arctic last winter to reach Norway, refugees have shown they are unlikely to be put off for long.

Kingsley believes that Turkey’s promise to take back refugees and economic migrants from Europe is not for nothing. The big prize is loosening visa restrictions for 75 million Turks within Europe’s 26-member border-free travel zone by the end of June, instead of October as originally promised. Turkey also wants to restart EU membership talks in five policy areas, not just the two already offered.

In the same context, Political Analyst Andrew Korybko believes the visa-free proposal for Turkish citizens is nothing more than the institutionalization of the core issues that are driving the migrant crisis, which are the U.S. and its Turkish ally’s designs to place Europe into an indefinite position of “Hybrid War” blackmail. In other words, there is no doubt that terrorists will exploit this visa-free privilege to further infiltrate into the EU, whether with Ankara’s direct support or its passive blind eye acceptance of this fact. Korybko added that the EU has no institutional security safeguards in preventing this process from being exploited for these purposes, it is essentially opening itself up to the large scale introduction of many terrorists onto its territory, and all with the host government’s implicit (albeit naive) approval.
Lastly, a Turkmen activist conducted a research where he found out that around 10 thousand Syrian fighters in Idleb including leaders of anti-government forces (mainly from Ahrar Al-Sham, Al-Nusra Front, Al-Farah Army terror groups) have received Turkish citizenship. In addition, around 2100 Turkish terrorists are already fighting in Syria. Therefore, as the war on Syria steadily draws to a close, those Turkish passport holding terrorists will inevitably flee back to their northern protector to avoid facing justice for their crimes. But Erdogan does not want trained militants on his territory. Instead, he will likely designate them as “refugees” and incentivize them to take their jihad to Europe so as to both mitigate the possibility of them ‘betraying’ him and to further his goal of blackmailing Europe into Neo-Ottoman subservience.