Escalating Conflict Between Istanbul and Brussels Over Afghan Refugee Crisis

Amid soaring tensions between the Taliban and the Afghan government, people are fleeing the country, presenting a new wave of the refugee crisis to Turkey and the European Union as well. Though not officially publicized, around 500 to 2000 Afghan refugees are entering Turkey. This has brought conflicts in the domestic arena. Opposition parties state that Turkey is already hosting 4 million refugees and is not “ready to take more”. Yet, the EU is aware that Istanbul’s economy is in shambles. Hence, paying more money to the Turkish regime seems a feasible option for the EU, to act as a hedge against what member states described as “terrorists”.

Brussels has a plan to bribe Turkey to keep refugees from Afghanistan away from Europe. Estimates show that there is a risk of 500,000 or a million Afghan refugees [coming],” Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, CHP, said on July 25.

Despite its purported dedication to promoting human rights across the world, the EU turns a blind eye to the humanitarian crisis that migrants are facing in Third world countries. Instead of initiating deals with such countries, the EU should develop a proper refugee resettlement system to meet its normative rhetoric.

In an article titled “Blocked by Diplomatic Barriers: Syrian Refugees and the EU Turkey Migration Cooperation” Hassib and Nounu say: “Instead of exporting its normative responsibility to offer refugees a safe haven to other countries with questionable political and economic circumstances; the EU should reinforce the principle of solidarity and burden-sharing among Member states and establish an organized EU refugee resettlement system.”

Protecting human rights should not be an impediment to combating terrorism. Thus, the EU should strike a balance between national security and human rights when addressing the migration issue.

It’s noteworthy that the insurgency has controlled more than half of the country’s provinces, including Puli Khumri, a strategically important city. In addition to that, the movement seized Faizabad, in the mountainous north-east, which remained outside of the Taliban’s control when it rose to power in the 1990s.

The rapid expansion of the movement puzzles policymakers, but President Joe Biden insists that “it is up to Afghans to defend themselves”. Now the US is withdrawing after it tore the country apart, encouraged the rise of extremists, and terrorized the civilians for more than 20 years. The US’s sudden disinterest in Afghanistan and Iraq says a lot about its foreign policy, which is undoubtedly far from being “normative-driven”.

Look, we spent over $1tn over 20 years, we trained and equipped with modern equipment over 300,000 Afghan forces,” Biden said on Tuesday. “Afghan leaders have to come together. . . They’ve got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation.”

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