In a hard hitting interview with Michael Rubin for ANHA, the American scholar said that Turkey has long waged demographic warfare with the lives of refugees and that Turkey’s President Erdoğan has perfected the tactic recalling how Turkey threatened to increase the flow of refugees to Europe to extract concessions from Europe.
Speaking about the so called ‘voluntary’ return of one million Syrian refugees to Syria Rubin said that there is no such thing as ‘voluntary return’ and that Turkey is using ethnic cleansing today in the same way that during World War 2, Germany sought to transfer Ukraine’s farms to German farmers in the name of lebensraum.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that more than one million Syrian refugees living in Turkey will be sent and housed in 13 settlements built in the occupied areas in northern Syria. This is seen as a bid by the Turkish state to continue and deepen the demographic change already taking place in occupied areas in North and East Syria under Turkish and affiliated Jihadist mercenary gangs control.
Michael Rubin, a scholar and senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) who previously worked as an official at the Pentagon, made a statement to ANHA that is reprinted below:
Erdoğan revealed that Ankara is preparing a project for the so-called “voluntary return” of one million Syrians to their country through the establishment of 13 residential areas in Syria that has been invaded and occupied by Turkey and build settlements in those areas after the forced displacement of its original inhabitants. How do you evaluate this? Does this not indicate that there are Turkish efforts to change the demographics in those areas?
Turkey has long waged demographic warfare, but Erdoğan has perfected the tactic. Consider, for example, how Turkey threatens to use the threat of refugees flows to extract concessions from Europe.
There is no such thing as a voluntary return. Syrian refugees in Turkey are told they must “volunteer” or else they will starve. What we are seeing today is ethnic cleansing as stark as when, during World War II, Germany sought to transfer Ukraine’s farms to German farmers in the name of lebensraum.
What are Erdoğan’s motives for implementing such a project? And why at this exact time? Is there a link between the file of the return of Syrian refugees and the Turkish elections scheduled for 2023?
First, Erdogan harbours a deep racist hatred of the Kurds. He is a Turkish supremacist. He was willing to bury this hatred at times so long as the Kurds would prioritize religion over other elements of national identity. Many Kurds may be Muslims, but Erdoğan is so narrow-minded that he cannot accept anyone as a true Muslims unless they uphold the same Muslim Brotherhood-inspired theology that he embraces.
Erdoğan is likely talking about acting now for a few reasons. First, expelling refugees may be popular among many Turks ahead of the 2023 elections. Second, Erdoğan believes he can get away with this. He rightly sees Joe Biden as weak and indecisive. He feels he can extract a pledge of non-interference in exchange for lifting his veto on Sweden and Finland joining NATO. More broadly, the Western focus on Ukraine and Russia leads Erdogan to think he can get away with murder, whether with regard to the Kurds, Armenians, or others.
What are the repercussions of the American, European and Arab silence on Erdogan’s project? Is this evidence that they are partners in the project?
What the West and the Arab world repeatedly fail to realise is that Erdoğan takes extreme positions in order to extract concessions while at the same time claiming he compromised. Such compromises are always victories for Erdoğan and usually based on the betrayal of the rights of others in the region like Kurds, Cypriots, and Armenians. Rather than assuage Erdoğan, however, such compromises only encourage him to seek more and engage in greater atrocity. If the West stood up to Erdoğan just once, they could show the world what a weak man he really is, one deserving of mockery rather than concession.