The European Union (EU) on 26 September launched a programme to issue monthly electronic cash grants to benefit a million refugees in Turkey. The programme is pat of a deal under which Ankara will curb the numbers trying to reach Europe.
According to officials, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) will give refugees pre-paid cash cards for food, housing, schooling or medical expenses in Turkey. Speaking at a news conference, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides disclosed “today we launch the biggest and largest humanitarian project the EU had ever supported. It will provide a basic source of income for one million Syrian refugees.” Stylianides further disclosed that “the ESSN is perfect proof of the EU’s commitment to tackle the challenge posed by the refugee crisis. It’s a clear example of the strong partnership of the EU and Turkey in finding together new, innovative ways to address one of the most important humanitarian challenges of our times.”
Earlier this year, EU member states approved a fund of 3 billion euros to help Turkey improve the living conditions for some 3 million Syrian migrants on its territory. The ESSN, which is part of that agreement, will be implemented by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Turkish Red Crescent, in collaboration with the Turkish Ministry of Family and Social Policy and the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency. The EU is also funding other humanitarian projects in the country, however Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has accused the bloc of now following through on its financial pledges.
More than a million migrants entered the EU after crossing from Turkey to Greece by boat in 2015. Since Turkey agreed to prevent people from setting sail from its shores earlier this year, the numbers taking that route have fallen dramatically.
Terrorism is an historical global phenomena. Groups are characterized by certain ideologies, modus operandi, organizational type, structure and functions. Although those parameter are easily identifiable there is no a single or a set of proven strategies capable of defeating it. The struggle is always the result of a complex interlinked series of actors and events. Terrorist and counterterrorist operations share, to same extend, the capability of adapting to the current scenario. State actors’ adaptability and the choice of measures to implement are generally part of a legal system. The legal framework of a nation is the direct result of its society requirements.
Ankara, has been hit by a terrorist attack for the third time in five months, with Sunday’s suicide bombing adding a further 37 to the city’s gruesome running toll of more than 200 dead. Turkey is the target of multiple terrorist organizations simultaneously, including Islamic State and the Kurdish Workers’ Party, or PKK. In response, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is demanding wider counter-terrorist powers to deal with the threat. The treat is credible and imminent however the EU is requesting a different approach. The European Parliament began debates on a proposal by the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, to grant Turkey the visa waiver. Turkey and the European Union sealed a contentious deal in March, under which the 28-nation bloc will take in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from the country and in return will reward Ankara with money, visa exemption and progress in its EU membership negotiations. Turkey has largely complied with the deal allowing providing asylum for millions of refugees and saving the EU from an unprecedented crisis that no member state has prepared or planned for.
The Turkish efforts and compliances are still not enough in order to win visa-free travel. Turkey must still meet five of 72 criteria the EU imposes on all states exempt from visas, one of which is narrowing its legal definition of terrorism. PM Ahmet Davutoglu, who negotiated the deal for Ankara and has largely delivered Turkish compliance with its conditions so far, announced he was stepping down, throwing the agreement into uncertainty. Turkey has used broad anti-terror laws to silence dissent, including detaining journalists and academics critical of the government. But Ankara insists the laws are essential as it battles Kurdish militants at home and the threat from Islamic State in neighboring Syria and Iraq. Turkey argues that, at the current stage, it is impossible to make any revision to the legislation and practices on terrorism while the country continues its intense fight against various terrorist organizations.
The main governmental bodies involved in combating terrorism are the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the General Staff of the armed forces and the intelligence services. In addition to these existing institutional structures the Under Secretariat of Public Order and Security has been established by Law No. 5952. Terrorism is a leading threat against international peace, security and stability. Turkey is committed to combating terrorism in all its forms, without distinction and takes a firm stance against associating terrorism with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group. The main legal provisions concerning terrorism are set out in the Counter-Terrorism Law (CTL), No. 3713 of 12 April 1991 and the Turkish Criminal Code, No. 5237 which entered into force on 1 June 2005. Since the enactment of the Counter-Terrorism Law, various amendments have been recently made to increase its effectiveness in counter-terrorism and to expand rights and freedoms in line with European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
According to NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, NATO ships are being deployed to the Aegean sea in a bid to deter people-smugglers taking migrants from Turkey to Greece. The announcement follows a request from Turkey, Greece and Germany at a defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels.
MR Stoltenberg has disclosed that the mission would not be about “stopping or pushing back refugee boats,” adding that instead, NATO will contribute “critical information and surveillance to help counter human trafficking.” He further disclosed that the decision was made in order to help Greece and Turkey “manage a human tragedy in a better way then we have managed to do so far.” Earlier, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter commented that targeting the “criminal syndicate that is exploiting these poor people” would have the greatest humanitarian impact.
NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 2, which is under German command, will lead the operation in co-operation with Greek and Turkish authorities. According to the United Nations refugee agency, almost 75,000 migrants and refugees have already arrived in Greece by sea in 2016.
Thousands of Syrians, mostly women and children, remain stuck at Turkish borders after fleeing offensive in Aleppo. The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, on the 9th of February 2016 called on Turkey to admit all civilians who are fleeing danger and seeking international protection. Tens of thousands of Syrians escaped intense air strikes in the northern province of Aleppo. Recent months have been dominated by intensive Russian air strikes and attacks on civilians have become a near-everyday occurrence. At least 500 reported killed in the province this month.
Turkey has already taken in more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees over the past five years hosting the largest number of refugees in the world. Its borders are considered the gateway to safety, leaving many stranded across them. The Turkish government has recently expressed frustration over the worsening migrant crisis saying that it has now reached the end of its “capacity to absorb”. Turkey applies strict controls on admission of refugees while maintaining an open door policy for those fleeing immediate harm to their lives.
The United Nations’ refugee agency has called on Turkey to open the border to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing a government offensive in Aleppo province, who are stranded near the Bab al-Salameh crossing. According to UN officials half of all Syrians have been forced to leave their homes, often multiple times, making Syria the largest displacement crisis globally. More than a quarter million Syrians lost their lives since the onset of the crisis in 2011. Protests escalated into civil war and the armed rebellion led to the rise of Islamists and jihadists, the so-called Islamic State, whose brutal tactics caused global outrage.
Today UK, U.S and Russia are leading air strikes in order to regain rebel parts of the country. Situation is worsening following the intensified Russian air operation in the province of Aleppo, an area divided between government and rebel control for years. Moreover according to ICRC the harshening of winter is pushing people’s resilience to the limits.
The United Nation Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs from March 2012 until February 2016 registered a total of 13.5M Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance; 4.6M fled the country and 6.6M have been displaced within the borders due to violence. Internally displaced the population struggles to survive and they are chasing after charities. The displacement of refugees is across several neighbour countries and Europe.
Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu attended the Informal Meeting of EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs on the 6th of February 2016. The prime minister, Numan Kurtulmus envisaged a further 600,000 refugees at the borders raising criticism on the Russian tactics. European member states requested immediate steps from Ankara to improve the situation for refugees in Turkey deploying without delay the €3 billion pledged by the European Union.
Turkey is currently under pressure to allow in 30,000 Syrian refugees stranded on its border. Migrants have inflicted a “huge strain” on the country’s economy, and called on the international community to assist Ankara in handling the burgeoning crisis. The main route from the north into Aleppo has been cut off and humanitarian aid cannot be efficiently delivered. The current situation is leading to a severe geopolitical turmoil.
Turkey is facing multiple problems and an internal division. The Russian power play in Syria vanished Turkish hopes for instituting a no-fly zone on the other side of the Syrian border and as Syria burns, Turkey’s Kurdish problem is getting worse. There is an increasing concern that the PYD’s success in Syria will dangerously strengthen the PKK in its fight against Turkey.
The Assad regime received support on the ground by the Iranian militias and the intensified Russian aerial bombardment led the United States to lose control over the entire operation. Within the next weeks the Assad’s bombing campaign will continue costing the lives of many other civilians.
The likelihood of Aleppo becoming the “Sarajevo” of Syria is increasing on a daily basis.
On Friday, 11 December, a United States Treasury official disclosed that the so-called Islamic State (IS) group has made more than US $500 million (£330m) in trading oil.
According to Adam Szubin, despite its ongoing battle to over throw the regime in Syria, IS’ “primary customer” has been the government of the country’s President Bashar al-Assad, stating, “the two are trying to slaughter each other and they are still engaged in millions and millions of dollars of trade.” He added that the group is estimated to be making as much as US $40 million a month from the oil trade, including from buyers in Turkey. Szubin has further disclosed that IS had also looted up to US $1 billion from banks in territory that it held.
Szubin has indicated that cutting off the group’s cash flow is a key part of the coalition strategy to defeat IS, noting that unlike other designated terrorist groups, IS has not relied on funding from foreign donors but has instead generated money from its own operations.
For over a year now, the US-led coalition has been bombing IS targets, including oil facilities, in Syria and in neighbouring Iraq. Recently, the US-led coalition launched a military campaign, dubbed Tidal Wave 2, which has seen air strikes intensify on IS oil fields, refineries and tankers that are being used by the group. According to findings focusing on late 2015 from UK defense consultancy HIS, IS currently generates around US $80 million a month, mainly from oil revenues, adding that it found that other sources of income include taxation, drug and antiquities smuggling, robbery and kidnapping and the sale of electricity.