Turkey shares 1295 km borders with Syria and Iraq (almost equivalent to the distance between London and Prague). ISIL being priority, any threat coming out of this geography is first directed against Turkey. ISIL, therefore, constitutes a direct threat to Turkey’s national security.
Turkey hosts more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees as part of a historical humanitarian effort and helps many more in Iraq. The number exceeds even the populations of some EU countries. The humanitarian assistance of Turkey to those refugees reached 4 billion USD (almost 2.5 billion GBP). These figures can provide a better picture that Turkey shoulders the “role of the United Nations” (only 244 million USD has been provided to Turkey by the international community).
As of 8October 2014, almost 3 million Syrians were treated in Turkey. 33.000 mothers gave birth in Turkish hospitals,310.000 children were vaccinated against polio. 69.000 children are being given proper school education whereas 30.000 adults are attending courses. 214.000 Syrians were provided with
e-food cards in cooperation with WFP. In compliance with the UNSC Resolutions 2139 and 2165, Turkey assisted UN humanitarian aid convoys (258 trucks) which passed through Nusaybin-Kamışlı, Cilvegözü-Bab al-Hava and Öncüpınar-Bab al-Salame border gates to Syria. These aids reached 415.540 people according to UN statistics. UNICEF and WFP started to provide humanitarian aid through Turkey as of 30 September 2014.
It is not possible to close our borders to those coming from Syria due to legal and humanitarian considerations. There are now almost 200 thousand people in Turkey from only Kobani region. They fled to Turkey within one week. Despite the risks, Turkey, through mobilising its resources, continues to maintain an open door policy for people coming to its borders, regardless of their ethnic identity. Humanitarian aid is also being sent to Kobani region. Turkey provided aid to civilians through Mürşitpınar/Ayn al-Arab/Kobani border gate (634 trucks). Turkey also retaliated the threats and attacks from ISIL from its territory, in conformity with its rules of engagement.
From the outset, Turkey handled Ayn Al Arab/Kobani issue with utmost sensitivity. The recent developments regarding Kobani is part of the developments in entire Syria. Trying to read a conflict, which has claimed over 200 thousand lives, only through developments in Kobani is not correct.
Turkey’s sensitivity is not exclusively limited to a certain region or group in Syria. Reflecting this sensitivity, Turkey’s calls against ISIL advancement towards Turkoman settlement, namely Tel Abyad and Çobanbey (where there are two border gates as in Kobani), a few months ago fell into deaf ears. We should not be selective while reflecting upon and managing the reactions of public opinion. Limited strategies do not lead to comprehensive solutions.
ISL cannot be eradicated by countering it through fighting it in Iraq alone or simply at the local level. ISIL has been able to dig in thanks to the air support of the regime in Damascus. Therefore, a no-fly-zone (NFZ) in Syria to enforce a safe haven is of vital importance. We cannot solve the current problems as long as we don’t implement NFZ. The strategy should also include elements against the re-deployment of regime elements or various terrorist structures to the areas where ISIL would be eliminated from. Once the strategy is agreed upon, Turkey is ready to discuss the execution of any joint effort with its allies and friendly countries.
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