Turkish armed forces invaded the north of Syria last week. These troops were then still supported by their Syrian allies. Meanwhile President Trump has withdrawn his troops from this area. The Kurds are under attack. Turkish President Erdogan threatens to send millions of refugees to Europe. In short, there is a complex situation that creates a lot of unrest, indignation and misunderstanding in the region. What are the possible consequences of Trump’s decision to withdraw his troops from northern Syria? Does Europe dare to threat back as a response to Erdogan? What is currently going on in the Middle East? An analysis.
The withdrawal of American troops
The U.S. military has left the north of Syria on Trump’s orders. As a result, the opportunity for a Turkish invasion in this area was seen by the Turkish President Erdogan. The Kurds are the greatest nation in the world without their own territory. The Syrian government has been suppressing the Kurds for decades. The American troops supported the Kurds at the time that they fought to gain a territory. With the help of the Americans the Kurds defeated a number of groupings of the Islamic State (IS) as well, whereby Arab cities such as Raqqa and Manbij were liberated.
Previously, the Turkish invasion was supported by Syrian allies. However, the game has changed. The Kurds have now entered into an alliance with the Syrian troops, as the Syrian troops have attempted to expel the Turkish forces in northern Syria.
Nevertheless, the Kurds feel betrayed. Previously the Americans supported them; it was called a loyal ally. This all changed the moment Trump took the decision to leave the area. The Kurds have lost everything; an ally and American protection. The Turkish invasion has already led to a large number of victims. The amount of victims still grows every day.
Not only is the Turkish invasion a problem for the safety of the Kurds. There is a possibility that due to instability IS unexpectedly sees the opportunity to seize back power. The stability that has been fought for for so long by the Kurds and Americans, can simply disappear.
Erdogan and Europe
In addition to the fact that Erdogan has opened fire on the Kurds, the Turkish president has also threatened to send millions of refugees to Europe recently. The 3.5 million Syrian refugees taken in in Turkey seem to have become a target of blackmail by Erdogan. The reason? The criticism that Europe has expressed on the invasion of the Turks must be taken back. Europe called it a ‘unilateral military action’, as Erdogan made it clear that the conquered area in Syria will be used to accommodate the Syrian refugees who are still in Turkey.
This could have demographic changes of the population of the Kurds. This because the Turks are thus attempting to conquer an area in northern Syria that is intended only for Syrian refugees. The Kurds who live here are no longer welcome. The question about what will happen to them has been a heated debated topic over the past few weeks. A European declaration stated that ‘any attempt for demographic change would be unacceptable’, pointing to a demographic change of the Kurds by the Turks.
To prevent this, the US has signed an agreement with Turkey on a ceasefire. The Kurds are therefore given the opportunity to leave the area that Turkey has invaded. They receive five days (from October the 17th 2019). However, there are reports that Turkey is already breaking the ceasefire. Erdogan denies that this would be the case.
A second refugee crisis?
Syrian Kurds have been fleeing massively since the invasion. This can have enormous consequences for Europe, but for Syria itself as well. Instability can lead to a return of IS in larger areas, which will lead to even greater outflows of refugees than before. The struggle that has been fought for for years to expel IS, seems to have been for nothing when the terrorists are managing to regain power. However, a European solution remains because of the complex situation and the many interests involved: the United States, Turkey, Europe and Russia are stakeholders in this conflict. There is a huge fear for a new, big refugee crisis.
Trump is trying to encourage Europe to get into action in the Middle East, but joint diplomatic action proves to be difficult. Europe fails to exert authority and intervene in the Middle East at a military level. This can lead to a catastrophe: a new conflict, perhaps the emergence of a new war in Syria, thousands of refugees who are fleeing to Europe and the Turkish President Erdogan being in charge of all of this.
At moment that the north Syria falls into Erdogan’s hands, chances of a possible ethnic cleansing are rising, as Turkey has one of the largest armies within NATO and is willing to use it. Therefore decisions will have to be made by Europe to prevent a new war and a second migration crisis.