Lessons from Idlib for the EU : In the Twilight of a Ceasefire

“We challenge the EU to open a forum on an alternative program for refugees.”

In the twilight of an unsteady ceasefire in Idlib, and while borders shut down during the pandemic (against W.H.O. recommendations) we will not wait for the power-holders to shock us with their next move.
DiEM25’s #StoptheDeal campaign condemns the EU’s bribery of Turkish officials to facilitate mass deportations since March 20, 2016. But we do not stop there. Idlib showcased how the European Union hired paid gatekeepers against refugees in the Mediterranean, leading to yet another state intervention into the complex and ruinous state of affairs in Syria.
A democratic EU foreign policy should put an end to  multibillion-euro mercenary financing schemes for Mediterranean police states in the region — like the Egyptian, Libyan, and Turkish militaries. Yet the EU has failed to take responsibility for the refugee crisis, and has instead delegated many of the decisions that they should be accountable for.
We challenge the EU to open a forum on an alternative program for refugees, and to stop the easy short-term solutions (easy for Brussels) of ‘deterrence’ when it comes to migration policy. The EU’s politics of ‘deterrence’ is simply the proxy repression of the ancient and predictable human behaviour of migration during war.
We recognize the refugee “flow”, which Turkey has been delegated to suppress as the human consequence of imperialist wars and national conflicts currently engulfing Syria, Libya and Afghanistan.
Syria’s civil war only intensified, thanks in part to the NATO member states’ investments in proxy warfare (such as the support of the “Syrian National Army” militia). These actions were based on a speculative understanding of the region, and on profit prospects for European weapons and munitions industries.
DiEM25 calls on the world’s progressives to join the Progressive International. Progressive movements can propose a New Deal on immigration. Progressive International supporters around the world can invoke Universal Jurisdiction against war criminals (including those NATO endorses) to be tried in court.
Turkey has agreed to ‘absorb’ Syrian as well as Afghan refugees. Therefore, we ask for EU cooperation with the International Criminal Court’s freshly opened investigations of NATO war crimes in Afghanistan, by preserving the lives of  potential witnesses to these crimes among Afghan refugees — as well as the lives of all who are stranded between Greek and Turkish waters today.
3.6 million refugees currently inhabit Turkey. Hundreds of thousands in Idlib (Northwest Syria) became vulnerable in the crossfire of a Turkish-Russo-Syrian war last December, while fearing the presence of Al Qaeda fighters moving from other areas of Syria, Northwest into Idlib.
Atrocities on all fronts further inflame the Syrian conflict that began with civil war, after a tragically thwarted popular uprising nearly a decade ago.
We watched the conflict intensify once again, with the involvement of proxy-militias backed by the US, EU member states, and other NATO allies. Sanctions contribute to inflaming the already dire conditions of the Syrians.
Whether power-brokers acknowledge it or not, the recent Turkish intervention in Idlib further set the stage for confrontation in the current Orwellian struggle of Great Powers, pitting NATO against Eurasia (Russia-China-Iran). In violation of the 2018 Sochi agreements, Turkey deployed troops alongside terrorist militias like the al-Qaeda-affiliated Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in Syria.
Inevitably, Syria’s Ba’athist military regime retaliated, backed by its Russian ally, as Moscow strove to halt the “Domino-effect” pattern of regime changes, imposed by NATO members in Russia’s immediate vicinity.
US senator Lindsay Graham gloated “I very much appreciate Turkey’s intervention in Idlib” calling for a no-fly zone—thereby echoing Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign promise to declare a “no fly zone” over Syria, egging for war with Moscow. Joe Biden, recent winner of a Pyrrhic victory against our Comrade Sanders, pledges similar vows.
We encourage the EU to more boldly reiterate its condemnation of US withdrawal (later mimicked by Russia) from the INF treaty in the nuclear arms race.
As an internationalist, anti-war, anti-imperialist political movement, DiEM25  joins this call of progressive Turkish organisations and our comrades in MeRA25. 
The EU has sufficient power to persuade the Turkish State to keep to the Sochi agreement and out of Syria, beyond mere ceasefire and the recent lockdowns (which obstruct humanitarian aid to Syria).
DiEM25 reiterates that Europe must put an end to its unbridled arms trade, and reallocate the profits of arms sales made to Syria factions and open aid passages to refugees, instead of paying more hired guns.
Refugees should not be reduced to blackmail capital, Trojan horses or bargaining chips in the hands of the Turkish oligarchy or other hired hands. DiEM25 calls for pacification of all currently closed borders, while redirecting the multibillion euro salaries of client regimes towards a European solution for the flux of war-tired refugees.
We condemn the farcical Munich Conference, where German “Defence” Minister Krampp-Karrenbauer stated Germany’s eagerness to imitate the United States’ egregious amplification of the defence budget at the expense of social programs.
DiEM25, by virtue of being an anti-austerity movement is also an anti-war movement and, thereby, an ecological movement that opposes plagiarizing EU officials who talk of a “Green Deal” whilst investing in feeding the flames with jet fuel.
Neo-conservative security regimes in place since 2007  have failed.
We call on EU governments to replace economic sanctions with arms embargoes and to reopen diplomatic passages to Syria, Russia and Turkey; whilst also opening a forum and opportunities for civil instruments.
Opportunistic strategies have not only failed refugees, but also our humanity. If EU President Ursula Von der Leyen continues to invoke migration-panic and a “European way of life” to justify funding regional police states, that too makes us complicit in suppressing Turkish citizens’ democratic aspirations. Such vain endorsements inevitably unravel Europe’s own democratic integrity.

Join DiEM25’s Progressive International to help us start the conversation on proposing a New Deal on immigration.

A lack of imagination among centrist politicians has led time and again to a failed Realpolitik response to immigration in the 21st century. This issue can only be settled within an international platform of solidarity that challenges Neo-Conservatism, the IMF, as well as the EU’s deportation-bureaucracies.
A dialogue of mutual understanding can end the propaganda wars around migration, and reconcile divides between local workers and the ‘exiled’ such as refugees and immigrants — those who currently feel excluded from centrist debate, and are lured by the bait of nativist parties’ disinformation into the ‘Nationalist International’.
A New Deal on immigration can promote the experiences and insights of progressives around the world: those inside and outside Europe, those confronted by the pressures and dilemmas of whether to join Diasporas or remain in their homelands.
The authors extend their warm gratitude to DiEM25 Izmir 1DSC, for their valuable support and to all comrades from Turkey who have provided contributions in the drafting of this article.
This article was written in collaboration with Mohammad Khair Nahhas and is the outcome of participative deliberations that took place on the issue of the EU-Turkey Treaty and migration policy between several DiEM25 DSCs.

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