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Erdogan government trying to dilute Kurdish presence by settling Syrian refugees in southeastern Turkey: expert

AMUDE – The Turkish government is trying to dilute the Kurdish presence in Turkey by settling Syrian refugees in the Kurdish region of southeast Turkey, a Middle-East expert told ARA News.


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this month offered citizenship to Syrian refugees in Turkey, a proposal backed by the EU that wants to limit the amount of Syrians coming to Europe.


Top PKK commander Cemil Bayik warned Turkey last week that the Turkish state policy to settle thousands of Syrian refugees among Kurds would not be accepted. Throughout history, the countries in the region have tried to settle non-Kurds in Kurdish areas, such as in Syria, Turkey, and Iraq.


For example in Syria, the Syrian Arab Republic tried to build an Arab belt in the 1970s by settling Arabs in the Kurdish region north of the country.


Bayik said that the state’s plan to settle Syrian refugees among Kurds has the similar goal to change the demography in the Kurdish majority Southeast of Turkey.


“What this says loud and clear is that we [the state] intend to finish you [Kurds] off. What Kurd would accept this?” said Bayik. “Any Kurd who accepts this would be complicit in genocide; he would be committing suicide. Turkey cannot disguise this genocidal policy by declaring concern for Syrian refugees.”


Bayik proposed refugee resettlement instead in other regions.


The prevailing opinion is that Erdogan sees a huge potential voting block among the 2.7 million Syrian refugees, wrote the Turkish journalist Fehim Taştekin for Al Monitor.


However, Robert Olson, a Middle East analyst in Lexington and author of The Kurdish Nationalist Movements in Turkey: 1980-2011, says one of the aims is to weaken the Kurdish presence in the Kurdish-majority southeast.


“I think the reasons for settling Syrian refugees it to weaken and dilute the Kurdish presence in the region. This is much like the Turkey’s polices in the southeast this past year,” he told ARA News.


“Turkey is pursuing this policy in the southeast. The latest Human Rights Watch report places the number of Kurds displaced at 345,000; that is ethnic cleansing in my view,” he added.


But the expert suspects the PKK will hit back.


“The PKK/KCK will fight of course. But now with the coup d’etat of the past week they now face an even more ferocious response from the military. This will be done with the blessings of the U.S. and EU,” he added.


Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg


Source: ARA News

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