In a UN speech that blended Israel bashing and threats to settle Syrian refugees in mostly Kurdish areas of Syria, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan laid out an increasingly nationalist agenda centered on a regional policy that is underpinned by obsession with Israel and increasing interest in occupying much of northern Syria.
Holding up a series of four maps, the Turkish leader sought to argue that Israel lacks borders and has been gobbling up Palestinian land. He then produced a second map of Syria where Turkey proposes to take over part of northern Syria and send mostly Syrian-Arab refugees into an area that is historically Kurdish.
In comments designed to inflame, Ankara’s “Sultan” asserted that the territory of Israel belongs to Palestinians and linked suffering in Gaza to the Holocaust. He attacked Israel for its policies in the West Bank and the Golan Heights. Without any sense of irony, the Turkish leader then produced a map of northern Syria, where Turkey is engaging in a military occupation of Kurdish areas such as Afrin, and suggested that Turkey should now take over part of northern Syria the way Israel has taken over the Golan, to create a “safe zone.”
Turkey has claimed in the past that it wants to forcibly re-settle millions of Syrians in various parts of northern Syria without regard to where those Syrians are from, and ignoring the rights of the local Kurdish people to have a say. Anadolu News in Turkey reported that Erdogan wants to take over a “corridor” in northern Syria that “will enable the resettlement of 3 million Syrians from Turkey, Europe and other countries if it is extended to the Deir ez-Zor/Raqqa line.”
In short, Turkey proposes to take over the areas that the US and the Syrian Democratic Forces are operating in. The SDF defeated ISIS in this area, sacrificing thousands of lives alongside American troops. Now Ankara would like to move in. Turkey also asserted that it cares about the “territorial unity of Syria,” even as it appears to be turning northern Syria into another northern Cyprus – a separate area. According to Turkish media, Ankara and the US agreed on August 7 to set up a safe zone in northern Syria, which Turkey calls by the Orwellian term “peace corridor” to “facilitate the movement of displaced Syrians who want to return home.” Most Syrian refugees in Turkey are not from this area– they’re often from Aleppo and other areas run by the Syrian regime.
The Turkish leader also used an image of a dead Kurdish child, Alan Kurdi, which he refused to name, as a symbol of the perilous journey refugees had made to Europe. The decision not to use the boy’s name appeared deliberate to hide the child’s Kurdish identity. Turkey has become increasingly nationalist in recent years in a shift to the far Right as politicians seek to outflank each other with incitement against Syrian refugees and minorities, while also boasting that Turkey has hosted the refugees. Turkish media has also fanned the flames of military displays, frequently reporting and threats that Turkey will launch a new military operation in Syria, after having taken over an area near Jarabulus in 2016 and then taken over Afrin in 2018.
To distract from problems at home, Turkey used its UN speech to slam Israel, claiming Israel heinously murdered a Palestinian woman recently. Turkey also sought to highlight nuclear weapons in the Middle East, claiming that they should either be banned or permissible for everyone.
source: Jerusalem Post