So, unlike trying to parse how Erdogan intends to proceed with the future of his operations, the description of how he is proceeding with the ethnic cleansing component while the geopolitical chess match plays out is pretty straightforward.
With one incredibly fucked up twist. But we’ll get to that by banging through the basic story.
First, in case it was not yet clear that this is ethnic cleansing and that Turkey has done it before, some people drew us a map. Literally.
So, this has happened before.
As part of their campaign, Turkey is lying about who normally lives where. Something about the hubris of telling other people where they live and belong seems to stand out even among his other many sins. It may not be as evil as some things he’s done, but as a peek into his through process… ew.
On November 15, Assad claimed northeast Syria is “a majority Arab area”, adding that 70 percent of its residents are Arabs.
“Things are different from northern Iraq and southeast of Turkey,” he said. “There is no Kurdish majority in this area.”
On October 25, Erdogan misrepresented the landscape of northeast Syria in order to justify his planned settlement of Syrian refugees in Turkey there.
“What is important is to prepare a controlled life in this enormous area, and the most suitable people for it are Arabs,” Erdogan argued in an interview with TRT.
“These areas are not suitable for the lifestyle of Kurds… because these areas are virtually desert.”
Both statements are disingenuous. The Syrian Kurdish heartland is in northeast Syria and Kurds make up a substantial part of the population there.
Furthermore, northeast Syria is not “virtually desert” as Erdogan claimed. Hasaka, for example, is invariably described as Syria’s “breadbasket”.
Both leaders’ misrepresentations of northeast Syria’s Kurdish demographics are cause for concern. This is because both men seek to, at the very least, curtail Kurdish self-determination there.
And then there’s some good history in there about the political struggle over federalism and the Syrian constitution and the problem of disadvantaged minorities and such.
Putting aside Erdogan’s description of the region that used to be known as the “fertile crescent,” we can see that, as per usual, he’s just making shit up to create some bullshit narrative—including a fictional history made from whole cloth—to claim that what he wants to do just makes sense.
He’s reasonable. This is all reasonable. Even the parts that are made up? Especially the parts that are made up.
So: Ethnic cleansing.
Now that it’s underway, we can see that there are two components: supply and demand.
By demand side, we may think in terms of trying to “reduce demand” for living in the region on the part of the people who live there. This is the campaign to blow shit up, vandalize, steal, remove the people’s social and political power, and otherwise just generally oppress a population until they decide to leave.
Supply side is to introduce a new supply of people to swamp the existing population and to dilute and ultimately dominate them socially and culturally until those who remain cease to be a people.
There’s some added flavor in that Turkey can do a little bit of the same time here due to the fact that it is understood that there is some significant portion of jihadi sympathizers among the refugees being moved here.
So, there is guaranteed to be mistrust both between the existing population and the new population, and also perhaps within the new population between the pro- and not pro- ISIS portions of the population.
Some people will be justifiably believed to be ISIS. Others will be unjustly judged to be ISIS. Uncertainty and resentment will reign. Remember: Feature, not bug.
Now here’s the kicker: The Arabs being settled there don’t want to fucking be there.
You have got to be shitting me.
So Erdogan’s plan is even more fucked up than normal ethnic cleansing as he’s forcing an already displaced refugee population into a new location that they will not consider home, so they’re still a displaced people, they’re just being displaced again. So, even if this wasn’t an effort at ethnic cleansing, it’s still an incredibly fucked up thing to do to a refugee population.
It’s not just that moving a population that is displaced to another place where they are still displaced is internally incoherent as a solution to a displaced refugee population. It’s somehow worse.
Erdogan is displacing a second time a displaced refugee population in a way that doesn’t solve their situation, may worsen it in some important ways, and he is subjecting these people to this in order to ethnically cleanse another disadvantaged population from the face of the earth.
What the fuck?
I mean, they want to go back to Idlib instead of living there. Idlib. That ought to tell us the kind of connection to place people in the region have—something I struggle to understand as an American who can trace my families connection to this country back at least a couple of months or so in relative terms as compared to the familial connections in some other places in the world that may extend back like 800 years.
And people wonder why it’s so hard to secure border in some parts of the world. As though a family that’s lived there for almost a millenium cares where some people in suits said the boundary is.
The above doesn’t even address that time Erdogan said he would never move the refugees back out of Turkey as that would be too inhumane. That’s just the creepy foreshadowing.
@Marciano490 brought up earlier that even back then, pulling out on “the Kurds,” could lead to a “Mexican Joker” scenario, as laid out in a South Park episode where Stan points out that putting children into detention centers at the border could start one of the kids onto the path of being a super villain.
That made sense to me then. This is like a hundred times worse.
Like, take an Arab kid there, who’s been displaced from his war-torn home in Syria, lived as a refugee for years in Turkey, probably encountering jihadis in the camps, then gets moved back to another place in Syria that was recently (or still is) a combat zone that isn’t home and the people there don’t want him there and hate and fear him because they suspect he might be ISIS, a general malaise that pervades the whole local society.
Yeah, that’s definitely a Mexican Joker scenario.
Let’s also not forget that Erdogan has more influence with jihadi types than anyone else in the region—they seem to understand he is a kindred spirit at least (Erdogan uses a lot more religious speech and symbology when addressing the people of Turkey than he does when dealing with America, and it’s striking.)—so if the ill will drives some people to ISIS, he doesn’t give a shit.
So this is a huge problem. Fortunately, people are having meetings.
Also, Turkey is not completely without international support for his objectives.
He has the support of <checks notes> Qatar.
Speaking to reporters on his return flight from a visit to Doha, Erdogan said he presented his plans to Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, adding that “Mr Tamim liked our projects”, according to NTV.
Well, I didn’t realize. I guess that’s settled then.
Incidentally, this article by Reuters goes from dumb to offensive when you realize that this isn’t news: This has been Qatar’s position all along. Seriously. Go look it up. This shit just keeps happening. Do the news outlets even understand that they’re pawns?
So Reuters is just amplifying the message now for no other reason than the fact that Turkey wants to make some noise about it.