Erdogan likely to join list of world's worst rulers
History has no shortage of disastrous rulers; this list could easily have been filled with the Roman Emperors alone.
History has no shortage of disastrous rulers; this list could easily have been filled with the Roman Emperors alone. Rulers have been homicidal, like Nero or Genghis Khan; incompetent, like Edward II; completely untrustworthy, like Charles I; or amiable but inadequate, like Louis XVI of France or Tsar Nicholas II.
Turkey's President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seems to have decided to secure this dubious distinction of joining the list of these worst rulers. Thousands of migrants trapped in a filthy no-man's-land beyond Turkey's border with Greece, prove it.
Huddled crowds from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Syria have gathered on a narrow road that sits between Turkish and Greek territory, their path to Europe blocked by razor wire and armed EU border guards. When Turkey opened its borders to immigrants, it was thought that the worst nightmare of the immigrants was over.
But he simply collected them from his own border and pushed them into the no-man's land. Turkey is once again using the displaced and the helpless as pawns in its dangerous geopolitical game with Syria and Europe and thereby unfolding yet another humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Mediterranean.
Now they are stuck in freezing temperatures with little food or water, resorting to pulling down tree branches for firewood and erecting makeshift tents, as it becomes clear that the path to Europe has been tightly sealed.
Just yards away from angry confrontations between migrants and border guards in front of children no older than five. A Greek government spokesman described the wave of migration as an "onslaught," adding that it would "do whatever it takes to protect its borders." And in Austria, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz hinted at border closures in the event that Greece failed to keep the crowds at bay.
"Thousands of migrants, including families with young children, are passing a cold night along the border between Turkey and Greece," the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a statement. "The number of migrants moving through Edirne towards the border grew through the day as cars, taxis and buses arrived from Istanbul," IOM Turkey Chief of Mission Lado Gvilava said.
Erdoğan has long threatened to let refugees into Europe if they don't meet his demands. His latest move marks the most serious escalation in his attempts to secure more help from Europe and NATO in tackling the refugee crisis in Syria, where almost a million have fled war in Idlib province in recent weeks.
This is nothing less than blackmail. Ankara's decision to open its land and sea crossings to Europe came shortly after an air strike by Bashar Al Assad's regime forces in Syria killed 33 Turkish soldiers stationed in the war-torn country's north-western province of Idlib, which is the last region still under the control of Syria's rebels.
This military escalation was started by President Erdogan when he sent in his troops to Idlib, leaving Moscow-backed Assad with no choice but to retaliate. The world is battling coronavirus already. Do we need more emergency situations to handle?
When will rulers like Erdogan understand the value of life? The virus is spreading fast the wide. What if such stranded immigrants get infected at some point of their travel? This virus does not respect borders. Let us not abet its spread.