There are two countries where Turkey is on active duty – apart from Iraq, where it has long had troops to fight the PKK, which inhabit the Qandil mountains.
Turkey first entered Syria in August 2016, successfully destroying the Daesh threat on its border. Currently, it provides many services, from collecting garbage to electricity infrastructure, in areas liberated from Daesh. As a result, about 200,000 of the refugees in Turkey have returned to the region. The YPG terrorist organization, the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, was removed from the Turkish border with operations Olive Branch and Peace Spring that followed, and refugees returned to these areas.
The latest Idlib crisis on our border has been caused by the Assad regime's irresponsible attacks targeting civilians. Houses, hospitals and schools were bombed with Russia's support from the regime. Some 1 million people who escaped death took refuge on Turkey's border. They stay in brick houses provided by the Turkish state and try to stay alive with the help of the Turkish Red Crescent and other Turkish nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
Turkey has ended up in a position where it is not adequately supported by either the EU or the U.S. while negotiating a political solution with Russia. Turkey's intent behind opening its borders to Europe is to convey the message that everyone is responsible for the refugee crisis and that it is now increasingly difficult to fight alone.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan traveled to Brussels earlier in the week and met with EU leaders, however, he left without attending the news conference they were expected to hold together. Indeed, the EU is still refusing to do what it had promised, both about the current crisis and the readmission agreement reached in March 2016. However, the two parties did not completely close their doors, saying that the meeting was a “first step” and that they were hopeful that common ground for a solution would be found.
The second crisis in which Turkey was militarily involved was in Libya. Turkey has sent troops to Libya at the invitation of the Government of National Accord (GNA) – the only legitimate authority recognized by the U.N. – to support it against the attacks launched by putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s forces last April. However, Europe continues to violate the rights of refugees. It considers incoming refugee boats as a major threat amid the Libyan civil war, even turning a blind eye to the Italian coast guard firing at boats carrying refugees.
French President Emmanuel Macron, for instance, hosted and met Haftar a month after he launched attacks. Macron provided weapons and intelligence assistance to Haftar's forces, who attacked the U.N.-recognized government by bombing civilians. Macron met with Haftar again this week.
Additionally, at the recent meeting, the EU ministers of foreign affairs decided to revive a naval mission in the Mediterranean Sea to enforce the internationally backed arms embargo on Libya. Thus, it has become clear that while Egypt and the United Arab Emirates continue to support Haftar, the EU will try to block Turkey's support.
Had Turkey not supported the GNA – avoiding the rise in the number of refugees and the bombing of civilians during the crisis – Tripoli would probably have fallen, and Haftar's military coup against the legitimate government would have been successful. However, Europe continues to make decisions that further provoke the civil war, feeling that their energy interests in the country are not adequately protected.
Turkey is the country that has responded most actively to the atrocities of war criminal Bashar Assad in Syria and has done the most damage militarily, currently caring for nearly 4 million refugees, with another 1 million on its border. It is also the only country that has intervened in Libya at the invitation of the legitimate government and has defended millions of civilians trapped in Tripoli.
Europe cannot both try to avert the refugee crisis and rewrite international law by its own rules. Until now, the EU has contributed to the process only through blood and tears by remaining indifferent to Syria and supporting the warlord in Libya. Even if they do not support Turkey's legitimate struggle, they must support its efforts to prevent the creation of more refugees.
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