Repatriation to Turkey’s “Safe Zone” in Northeast Syria (SWP)

Following the US decision to withdraw troops from Northeast Syria and upon sepa­rate agreements with the US and Russia, Ankara established what it calls a safe zone in the area between Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn. Even if spanning a smaller territory than envisaged, Turkey aims with its safe zone to impede Kurdish autonomy in North­ern Syria, on the one hand, and to return refugees who have increasingly become a domestic policy challenge for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP there­after), on the other hand. Turkey’s plan for repatriation signals that its interests align with European interests in refugee return. Given concerns about the safety of refu­gees, voluntary nature of return, and Ankara’s attempts at demographic engineering, Europeans should not support a Turkey-led repatriation to Syria without conditions.

Sinem Adar

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