Refugee flow linked to Turkish policy shift


A Syrian woman and her children walk past a Turkish flag and a banner of modern Turkey's founder Ataturk in the resort town of Bodrum, Turkey, Friday.

TAGS: Migration, Diplomacy

A sharp increase in the influx of migrants and refugees, mostly from Syria, into Greece is due in part to a shift in Turkey’s geopolitical tactics, according to diplomatic sources.

These officials link the wave of migrants into the eastern Aegean to political pressures in neighboring Turkey, which is bracing for snap elections in November, and to a recent decision by Ankara to join the US in bombing Islamic State targets in Syria. The analyses of several officials indicate that the influx from neighboring Turkey is taking place as Turkish officials look the other way or actively promote the exodus. According to one Greek official, security fears are a key reason for Turkey’s encouragement of migrant flows.

“Turkey is facilitating or at least is not hampering the movement of illegal immigrants toward Greece, thinking that in this way it will limit the risk of a possible new terrorist attack on its territory as a reprisal for the military operations it has carried out on Syrian soil,” the official said.

Another diplomat said Turkey wants to create a “dead zone” on its border with Syria that would allow the Turkish military to freely move against jihadists and Syrian Kurds. “This is why it is encouraging, or at least not obstructing, the movement of refugees from camps near the Syrian border to the Aegean and Greece,” he said.