Turkey is reportedly orchestrating a strategic resettlement of up to 250,000 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to Kurdish-populated areas in southeastern Turkey and the Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus. Detailed in a report by Gregory R. Copley, editor at GIS/Defence & Foreign Affairs, this plan indicates a coordinated effort involving Turkey, Qatar and HAMAS, in an unexpected alignment with Israel.

Turkey is reportedly orchestrating a plan to resettle up to a quarter of a million Palestinians from the Gaza Strip into Kurdish populated areas of southeastern Turkey and Turkish-occupied region of northern Cyprus. This information, detailed in a report by Gregory R. Copley, editor at GIS/Defence & Foreign Affairs*, points to a collaboration between Turkey, Qatar and the militant group HAMAS, and highlights the far-reaching strategic consequences for the Eastern Mediterranean.

The report reveals that extensive consultations have been ongoing between the Turkish and Qatari secret services and HAMAS officials. These discussions, focused on the long-standing crisis in Gaza, include a plan, accepted by Israel, to relocate a significant number of Palestinians from Gaza to third countries, thereby appearing to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in the region, by potentially reshaping geopolitical dynamics in the Eastern Mediterranean, in a strategic redistribution of populations across sensitive political borders.

Central to this plan is Turkey’s intention, as orchestrated by the Turkish Intelligence Service (MİT), for the “humanitarian transfer and relocation” of 200,000 to 250,000 Palestinians from Gaza to areas in southeast Turkey, predominantly inhabited by Kurdish populations. Moreover, a substantial portion of these refugees are planned for resettlement in occupied northern Cyprus, particularly in the wider Famagusta area.

This plan, as the report indicates, serves multiple strategic purposes for Turkey. Firstly, it positions Turkey as a benefactor in the Islamic world, backed by a ‘Special Fund’ for Palestinians. Secondly, the resettlement in occupied Cyprus implicitly pushes for the recognition of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is currently recognised only by Turkey.

Additionally, Turkey’s actions are intertwined with aspirations to normalise relations with Israel. By transferring a large number of Palestinian refugees to Turkey, it hopes to alleviate the pressure Israel faces due to a growing Palestinian population in Gaza. This plan aligns with Israel’s intentions to relocate Palestinians from its territory, suggesting a coordination of geostrategic moves between the two nations.

Furthermore, Turkey’s broader scheme includes establishing an international body through the United Nations, led by Turkey, to oversee a multi-level peace initiative for resolving the Palestinian issue. This initiative reflects Turkey’s declared intention to act as a guarantor for the Palestinian side, positioning it as a key player in the region’s stability and security. The plan involves an international security and governance regime in the Gaza Strip under Turkey’s leadership, effectively exerting pressure on the international community, particularly the EU, to recognise and finance the resettlement program. This move further underscores Turkey’s strategic aim to extend its influence and diplomatic reach in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The report also sheds light on the current situation in occupied northern Cyprus, which hosts various Islamic cells and serves as a financial and operational base for extremist Islamic organisations. The proposed resettlement of Palestinians, along with the ongoing discreet operation of banks from countries like Iran and North Korea, adds complexity to the region’s already delicate political and security landscape.

This strategic move by Turkey, if executed, would significantly alter the demographic and political dynamics in the Eastern Mediterranean and reshape Turkey’s relations with its regional neighbours, the European Union, and the broader international community.

(*) Defence & Foreign Affairs has provided reports and analysis since 1972. This publication is part of the Defence & Foreign Affairs Group, which is associated with the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA). The ISSA is an organisation focused on strategic and international studies. They offer a variety of publications and resources, including the Defence & Foreign Affairs Handbook and an encrypted-access Global Information System (GIS) that provides detailed intelligence briefings.