Bayram Balci, Juliette Tolay
While the issue of Syrian refugees has led an increasing number of countries to work on curbing arrivals, one country, Turkey, hosts almost half of these refugees. Yet, far from imposing restrictions, Turkey has distinguished itself for its open border policy and large-scale humanitarian contribution. Turkey’s generosity alone is not sufficient to understand this asylum policy put in place specifically for Syrians. There are indeed a number of political factors that indicate a certain level of instrumentalisation of this issue. In particular, Turkey’s benevolent attitude can be explained by Turkey’s early opposition to Assad in the Syrian conflict and its wish to play a role in the post-conflict reconstruction of Syria, as well as by its willingness to extract material and symbolic benefits from the European Union. But the refugee crisis also matters at the level of domestic politics, where different political parties (in power or in the opposition) seem to have used the refugee issue opportunistically, at the expense of a climate favorable to Syrians’ healthy integration in Turkey
Olivier Grojean et Merve Özdemirkiran
For ideological and practical reasons the AKP government, in power since November 2002, has engaged in a policy of progressive integration of Turkey into the Muslim, and more particularly, the Arab world. This policy has been facilitated by the country’s booming economy and assertive foreign policy. Turkey, whose government embraced a political ideology similar to those, brought to power by the Arab Spring, benefitted greatly from the ideological effects of the Arab Spring. These benefits were enhanced by the fact that the political ideology of those brought to power by the « Arab Spring » was similar to that of the AKP. Turkey appeared to be becoming a model for the Arab world. However, the crisis in Syria, a country central to Turkey’s Arab policy, and the inability of the Turkish government to remain neutral has put an end to Turkey’s Arab dream. Turkish engagement in the Syrian crisis has caused deterioration in Turkey’s relations with a number of its neighbors and forced it to renew ties with its traditional western allies from whom it had hoped to distance itself in order to be an independent regional and international player.
From 1991 to 2000, Syria and Israel, two of the key actors of the Middle-Eastern conflict, entered into extensive peace negotiations. What lessons can be drawn from the process in terms of Syria’s objectives, motivations and perceptions, considering that this actor remains largely unknown? Such concerns will be addressed by identifying the major issues at stake: territory, security, and water resources. By analyzing all the obstacles on the road to peace, we will evaluate the potential for a resumption of peace talks in the new regional context. The death of President Hafez al-Asad in June 2000 and the rise to power of his son Bashar, the deterioration of the Israeli-Palestinian situation since the start of the Intifada and Ariel Sharon’s election in Israel, the war launched by the United States in Iraq, the assassination of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon in April 2005, and the meeting of the 10th Baath Party Congress in June have all drastically impacted on domestic and regional dynamics. The purpose of the study is to shed new light on Syria’s constraints and opportunities, and their impact on her bargaining position.