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  • Author: Kirill Semenov
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The situation in Idlib poses a challenge to the Assad government. Damascus has neither the forces nor the means to resolve the problem. Moreover, any operation conducted against the Syrian moderate opposition and the radical alliance “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham” (HTS) concentrated in this region could be significantly problematic for the government. Turkey seeks to establish a protectorate or security zone in Idlib to accommodate those fleeing regime-held areas and prevent a new refugees flow into Turkey. The gains achieved by the Turkish operation in Idlib by the establishment of the security zone has potentially been lost as a result of the subsequent Russian backed Syrian government offensive, which has created a problem for Turkey with hundreds of thousands heading toward the Turkish border and threatening to exasperate what is already a costly refugee problem for Ankara. In order for Turkey to address issues in Idlib, including IDPs and economic problems, it first needs to deal with the HTS, ideally finding a way to dissolve the group. This could potentially be an area of cooperation for Moscow and Ankara. This may be necessary to prevent a deterioration in the security situation and long-term destabilisation of the area.
  • Topic: Security, Refugees, Economy, Political stability, Displacement, Syrian War, Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), Transition
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: Serhat Erkmen
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The Peace Spring Operation (PSO), launched on 9 October 2019, was Turkey’s military/diplomatic/political offensive against the People's Defence Units (YPG) in Syria and beyond and was triggered by key dynamics in the country. The first was the redeployment of US troops in the northeast of Syria; second was the expansion of Russia’s area of influence towards the east of the Euphrates; third was the launch of a new phase of the Assad government’s operation in Idlib; forth was a re-evaluation of YPG’s patron-client relationship with the United States and the European Union. Turkey sought to prevent the formation of a Kurdish state and to address the Syrian refugee issue. While Turkey was able to achieve some strategic gains via the PSO, many challenges remain which prevent Ankara from achieving all its objectives. This paper argues that PSO should be analysed in the context of Turkey’s two former operations in Syria, Euphrates Shield Operation (ESO) and Olive Branch Operation (OBO).
  • Topic: Military Intervention, Conflict, Syrian War, Transition, YPG
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Başak Yavçan
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Discussion paper for the workshop on: “The Politics and Modalities of Reconstruction in Syria”, Geneva, Switzerland, 7-8 February 2019. Turkey hosts the majority of the Syrian refugees, with 3, 636 617 registered Syrians. From 2015, Turkish authorities moved from a policy of temporary protection, to one of integration, while also promoting voluntary return. According to statistics from Directorate General of Migration Management of Turkey (DGMM), in 2018, 254, 000 Syrians voluntarily returned to Syria. This was thought to be the effect of new government policies promoting return, such as permits for holiday visits and family reunion. However, 194, 000 of these re-entered Turkey, casting doubt on the actual impact of these policies as well as the security and economic conditions inside Syria, which would accommodate return.
  • Topic: Government, Migration, Refugees, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Turkey expects Chinese support for its incursion into Syria against the Kurds, but in return, China expects Turkey to turn a blind eye to its persecution of Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang. Turkey’s refusal to fully recognize Kurdish rights is thus intertwined with China’s brutal crackdown in its troubled northwestern province. Both parties justify their actions as efforts in the fight against terrorism.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Ethnic Cleansing, Conflict, Syrian War, Kurds
  • Political Geography: China, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Syria, Xinjiang
  • Author: Karim Makdisi
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Refugee movements are not a new phenomenon in the Middle East and North Africa. The history of the region has been shaped by waves of displacement and refugee crises, and the most recent, the dramatic case of Syria, is still in process. This paper investigates refugee movements in the region and their impact on regional dynamics by focusing on two important case studies: Lebanon and Turkey. It explores each country’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis in detail, while addressing the role of relevant stakeholders, such as international organizations, civil society and government, in humanitarian relief efforts as well as in refugee protection and management.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Migration, Refugees, Syrian War, Mobility
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria, European Union
  • Author: M. Murat Erdoğan
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (DCAF)
  • Abstract: This second paper of the DCAF-STRATIM paper series by M. Murat Erdogan analyses the situation of Syrian refugees in Turkey, and the resulting challenges for both the refugees themselves and for Turkish society. The author argues that although the Turkish government does not officially acknowledge Syrians as refugees, Turkey has maintained an open door policy and provides them with considerable opportunities, rights and services€. The author calls on Turkey to review its approach towards Syrian refugees as the current approach is based on the wrong assumption of it being a temporary phenomenon€. The author expects a high probability that significant numbers of Syrians will permanently remain in Turkey. Since the first wave of Syrian refugees reached Turkey on 28 April 2011, the flow has not halted. With the Syrian civil war in its sixth year, expectations for a peaceful Syria in the short- and medium-term have faded considerably. The author calls for smart strategies, in line with human rights, and supported by Turkish society, for integration and co-existence based on efficient registration, better coordination between relevant agencies, a focus on education and the provision of working permits.
  • Topic: Demographics, Human Rights, Refugee Issues, Refugee Crisis, Syrian War, State
  • Political Geography: Geneva, Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Suat Kiniklioglu
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (DCAF)
  • Abstract: This first paper in the DCAF-STRATIM paper series by Suat Kiniklioglu analyses the development of Turkey's policy towards Syria since the start of the Arab Uprisings. It illustrates the factors which contributed to the shift in Ankara's foreign policy focus towards Syria; from its role as the strongest advocate for regime change, to the sole focus on the prevention of a Kurdish consolidated geographical and political entity in Syria. The author describes how Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan and Ahmed Davutoǧlu saw the Arab Uprisings as a unique Turkish moment that could allow the country to regain its long-lost international grandeur. Ankara detected that the Muslim Brotherhood was on the rise in the region. In Tunisia, the Ennahda Movement; in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhvan); and in many other Middle Eastern countries - including Syria - Ikhvan-affiliated movements were on the march.€ The author concludes that, contrasting with the initial enthusi­asm about a "Turkish Moment" when the Arab Uprisings erupted, Ankara will have to settle, it seems, for a much more modest outcome than originally envisaged in 2011.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Arab Spring, Military Intervention, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Arab Countries, Syria