Turkey

Covid-19 strengthens case to welcome refugees

Right-wing governments and movements are using the C-19 crisis to demand refugees from the Middle East and elsewhere are kept or driven out of Europe. In fact the crisis only strengthens to the case they must be let in, welcomed and integrated. The Syrian government says the country has no confirmed C-19 cases, but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports outbreaks in several provinces. It says the regime has issued a gag order to stop medical personnel discussing the issue. Meanwhile Syria is one of very few countries in the region not to have stopped air travel with Iran — the...

Uneasy lull in Idlib

Since Friday morning 6 March, a tentative ceasefire has been in place in Idlib. Russian president Putin and Turkey’s president Erdoğan came to this agreement at their meeting in Moscow on Thursday 5th. The deal makes provisions for a security corridor covering the area around the M4 motorway which goes through Idlib from Aleppo to Latakia, and Russia-Turkey patrols starting in mid-March. It did not secure any withdrawals by Assad from any of his recent gains in Idlib province, or a safe zone for the million people who have been displaced by the latest round of fighting. Despite being a member...

Open the borders for Syrian refugees!

For a long time, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been "threatening" to open Turkey’s western borders, and allow the millions of refugees to travel to Europe. Now he is upping the threats and raising the stakes. His aim is not to get better conditions for the refugees. It is to force Europe into greater support of Turkey. Yet, with the renewed attacks on migrants, it is the responsibility of socialists all across Europe to challenge the racist anti-immigration laws being put forward by our governments. In Britain the losses have far outnumbered the victories as Home Secretary Priti...

The Crimean Tatars, Crimea, and Turkey

Conditions are bad for the Crimean Tatar community in Crimea, under Russian rule since Putin annexed Crimea in 2014. No Crimean Tatar organisations are able to operate. The sixteen Crimean Tatar language schools have all been closed. The Crimean Tatar library has been shut down. The Crimean Tatar university (Tavriva) has had to move to Kiev. The Crimean Tatar TV channel has been taken over by the Russian authorities. Of the three Crimean Tatar newspapers, two have been shut down, and one is now run by the Russian authorities. There have been lots of kidnappings and disappearances of activists....

No “safety” for Kurds in Syria

As far as the foreign powers involved are concerned, the ceasefire in northern Syria has shakily held up for the most part. For people on the ground, it is a very different story. In the talks between Russia and Turkey last week, Putin agreed to preside over the withdrawal of the Syrian Democratic Forces from northern Syria, allowing Erdoğan to establish a Turkish “safe zone” between Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad. This was agreed in Sochi without any representatives of the Kurdish forces present, demonstrating clearly how Russia sees its role in the region, and the nature of the “protection” they...

Why we don’t look to “the international community” to defend the Kurds

“The policy that attempts to place upon the proletariat the insoluble task of warding off all dangers engendered by the bourgeoisie and its policy of war is vain, false, mortally dangerous. “’But fascism might be victorious!’ ‘But the USSR is menaced!’ ‘But Hitler’s invasion would signify the slaughter of workers!’ And so on, without end. “Of course, the dangers are many, very many. It is impossible not only to ward them all off, but even to foresee all of them. Should the proletariat attempt at the expense of the clarity and irreconcilability of its fundamental policy to chase after each...

Self-determination for the Kurds!

A temporary ceasefire for five days in Turkey’s invasion of majority-Kurdish areas of Syria was negotiated by the USA on 17 October. The American delegation to Ankara, headed by Vice President Mike Pence, agreed a 120-hour period for the Syrian Democratic Forces (the Kurdish-led forces in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria) to withdraw from a 20-mile deep area which Turkish president Erdoğan has decreed as a “safe zone”. In reality, this is a zone which has been designated for occupation and ethnic cleansing. Even the temporary halt to the violence is good. According to the...

Turkey: the poverty of “anti-imperialism”

In a letter to prime minister Boris Johnson leading figures from 13 UK unions have urged the UK government to condemn outright the Turkish aggression against the Kurds, triggered by Trump’s precipitate decision to withdraw all US troops from Syria. They describe Trump’s move as “a green-light to a Turkish military invasion of North and East Syria, which, as we have already seen in Afrin, will undoubtedly lead to ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Kurds as well as a resurgence of ISIS. “We therefore call on the UK government to immediately condemn Turkey’s threats of invasion and to work with...

The island, the refugees, and the yachts

I started coming to Symi, a tiny Greek island in the Aegean, closer geographically to Turkey than the Greek mainland, 30 years ago. Missing a few years in the middle, I resumed coming five years ago. In these five years, the island has seen many refugees being washed up on its harbour side; mainly from Syria plus some from Afghanistan, Iraq, and sub-Saharan Africa arriving from Turkey just across the water. Although there was consternation on the island from residents who themselves were suffering the effects of the collapse of the Greek economy, the response to the refugees was (and continues...

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