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Report 230 / Europe & Central Asia

Suriye Bataklığının Türkiye'ye Artan Maliyeti

Yönetici Özeti

Komşusu Türkiye’nin kapısına üç yıl önce dayanan Suriye krizinin insani, siyasi ve güvenlik maliyetleri artmaya devam ediyor. En az 720.000 Suriyeli mültecinin, ölen 75’ten fazla Türk vatandaşının ve harcanan yaklaşık 3 milyar doların ardından, hayal kırıklığı ve bitkinlik etkisini iyice hissettirmeye başladı. Türkiye’nin insani yardımları ahlaken doğru  ve uluslararası ilkelere uyuyor, ancak özünde halen bir acil durum tepkisi olarak devam etmekte. Her gün yenileri gelen Suriyelilerin bakımını üstlenebilmesi için Ankara’nın uluslararası toplumla birlikte sürdürülebilir ve uzun vadeli bir anlaşmaya varması gerekiyor. Mezhep kaynaklı ve askeri çatışmaların en kötüleri kendi ülkelerine sıçramasa da Türkler, özellikle kuzey Suriye güvenilmez, sahipsiz bir bölgeye dönüşmüşken, kendi topraklarında bomba yüklü araçların ve diğer silahlı olayların yol açtığı güvenlik risklerinin farkındalar. İhtilafın başlamasında rolü olmasa da Ankara fiilen bir aktör haline geldi. Tek başına gerçek bir değişime yol açamayacağından, Türkiye kendi sınırlarını ve vatandaşlarını korumaya odaklanmalı, hükümetin Sünni Müslüman yönelimli dış politikasından uzaklaşma çabalarını canlandırarak mezhepsel açısından daha tarafsız bir dış politikaya yönelmeli ve Suriye’de uzlaşmaya dayalı siyasi bir çözümü açıkça desteklemeli.

Türkiye, Suriye’den kaçan mültecilerin güvenli topraklara ulaşabilmesini ve yasal bir çerçeve içinde uluslararası korumaya kavuşmasını sağlamalı; ancak bunun maliyetini tek başına karşılamak zorunda olmamalı. Türkler, Suriyelileri uluslararası toplum adına kabul etti ve uluslararası camianın da artan külfeti paylaşmada sorumluluğu bulunuyor. Sığınma merkezleri inşa etmenin ve bakımlarını sağlamanın yüksek maliyeti, yeni gelenlerin çoğunun kampların dışında kalmaları anlamına geliyor. Kentlerde bu durumda bulunan Suriyelilerin resmi sayısı 500.000 olarak veriliyor; ancak gerçek rakam, bunun iki katı olabilir. Mülteci akını, yerel altyapı üzerinde baskıya yol açıyor ve toplumsal gerilimler yaratıyor. Kaynaklar ve sabır azaldıkça ve güvenlik sorunları arttıkça Türkiye’nin açık kapı politikası da limitlerine yaklaşıyor. Sınır kontrolleri sıkılaştırılmış olsa da Suriyeliler, çoğu zaman yasadışı yollardan, ülkeye girmeye devam ediyorlar.

Ankara’nın Suriyelilere yönelik kapsamlı bir yerleşim stratejisine ihtiyacı var. Bunun aynı zamanda onlara bir işte çalışmak, sosyal hizmetlere erişmek, dil öğrenmek ve eğitim aracılığıyla Türk toplumuna entegre olma seçeneğini de sunması gerekiyor. Bu, öncelikle Nisan 2013 tarihli yabancılar ve uluslararası koruma yasasını genişletecek daha kapsamlı bir yasal çerçeveyi gerektiriyor. Donörler, Suriyeliler için üzerinde Türkiye ile karşılıklı olarak uzlaşacakları barınma planlarına finansman sağlayarak ve uzman bilgisini paylaşarak lojistik ve mali açılardan yardım sağlayabilirler.

2012 yılından bu yana Türkiye, kuzey Suriye için temel yaşam hattı olageldi. Pek çok ülke ile uluslararası ve yerel örgüt, insani yardım açısından fiili bir güvenli bölge üzerinden en azından 100.000 Suriyeliye yardım götürüyor. Türkiye insani yardım iletmek için uluslararası örgütlerle elinden geldiği kadar işbirliği yapmaya devam etmeli. Ankara açısından Suriye içinde yerinden edilmişlerle ilgilenmek, yeni sığınmacı akınlarının önüne geçiyor. Ancak öngörülebilir gelecekte ihtiyaçları geçici kamplarda karşılamaya yönelik bu planlar, gitgide istikrarsızlaşan bir ortamda hem Suriyelileri hem de yardım çalışanlarını bekleyen tehlikeleri görmezden geliyor. Kriz Grubu’nun 2013’te önerdiği üzere, en iyi seçenek, savaşın harap ettiği ülkelerini terk etmek isteyen tüm sivillerin Suriye’den ayrılmalarını sağlamak olacaktır.

Türkiye, Suriye’nin diğer komşularına göre daha büyük, daha güçlü ve daha zengin olabilir; ancak sınırlarını mültecilere açık tutmaya devam etmesi için yine de desteklendiğini hissetmesi gerekiyor. Geçtiğimiz bir buçuk yıl içinde Ankara, uluslararası yardıma kapılarını açtı ve bu kriz üzerinde çalışmaları için daha fazla insani yardım amaçlı sivil toplum örgütünü kayda geçirdi. Ne var ki yabancılara karşı süregelen korku ve bürokratik engeller, mevcut uluslararası kaynaklardan tam olarak faydalanmasını hâlâ engelliyor. Üçüncü taraflar, krizde Türkiye’nin şimdiye dek yaptığı harcamanın sadece onda biri kadar katkıda bulundular. Donörler artık, Ankara’nın dış yardımı ilk başta reddetmiş olmasının veya durumu Ürdün veya Lübnan’dan daha iyi idare etmesinin arkasına saklanmamalılar.

Türkiye, içeride mezhepsel huzursuzluğu başarılı şekilde önlemiş olsa da Suriye politikası, Alevi ve Kürt nüfusu dahil olmak üzere iç siyasette rağbet görmüyor. Batılıların müdahale sözünü tutmamış olması nedeniyle ihanete uğradığını hisseden iktidardaki Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP), geçtiğimiz yıl dış politikasında ayar düzeltmesi yaptı. Yeni söyleminde Suriye’den kaynaklanan ve gittikçe genişleyen güvenlik tehditleri listesinde rejim ve onun yöneticilerinin yanı sıra silahlı muhalefetin cihatçı unsurlarına da yer verdi. Türkiye’deki Kürdistan İşçi Partisi (PKK) ile ilişkilendirdiği Suriyeli Kürtlerin Demokratik Birlik Partisi (PYD) ile temasta bulunmayı kesinlikle reddetme politikasını 2013’te tersine çevirdi ve Mart 2014’te Suriye’nin nihayet BM’nin insani yardımı için geçiş noktası açması üzerine BM’nin yardım konvoylarının PYD denetimindeki topraklarına girmesine izin verdi. Büyük resme bakıldığında Türkiye, uzun sürecek askeri müdahalelerden kaçınmak istiyor; ancak şiddetli sınır çatışmaları ve rejimle zaman zaman havada yaşanan gerginlikler, ihtilafın tırmanma riskini arttırıyor. Tüm bunlara rağmen Türkiye’nin geniş kapsamlı bir askeri müdahaleye girişmesi, en azından arkasında uluslararası bir görev ve destek olmadan, muhtemel görünmüyor.

AKP liderliğinin Suriye Devlet Başkanı Beşar Esad’ın makamından ayrıldığını görme konusundaki kararlılığı ve Suriye’deki anaakım muhalefete verdiği destek gücünü koruyor.  Mülteci kamplarında muhalif savaşçılara ve ailelerine ev sahipliği yapıyor, siyasi ve askeri muhalif grupların topraklarında bir araya gelmesine izin veriyor ve lojistik ve malzeme yardımı yapıyor. Ancak Türkiye, hiçbir zaman Suriye içindeki savaşan muhalefetin ana destekçisi olmadı ve Körfez ülkeleri siyasi alanda da daha fazla nüfuz kazandılar. Buna rağmen muhalefetin ana siyasi kanadı olan Suriye Muhalif ve Devrimci Güçler Ulusal Koalisyonu ile sürdürülen temas, Cenevre-2 barış görüşmeleri için destek sağlanmasına ve Kürtlerin sınırlı da olsa temsil edilmesine yardım etti. Türkiye, Suriye’nin kuzeyindeki muhalif gruplara gönderilen teçhizat için transit ülke olarak bu gruplar üzerindeki nüfuzunu kullanmalı ve onların uluslararası insani hukuk kurallarına uymalarını ve mezhep ayrımı göstermeyecek şekilde davranmalarını teşvik etmeli. Dış politikada İran da dahil bölgedeki ortaklarıyla açık iletişimi sürdürerek Türkiye, Suriye savaşında dış aktörlerin müdahalelerini karşılıklı olarak azaltmaya ve barışa daha uygun bir ortam inşa etmeye gayret etmeli.

Arresting Yemen’s Freefall

UN-led, U.S.-supported efforts to reach a nationwide ceasefire in Yemen have made little progress. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2021 – Spring Update, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to send more aid to Yemen, and push the UN to increase diplomatic outreach, especially to the Huthis, the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council.

In the spring 2020 EU Watch List, Crisis Group warned that the military, political and humanitarian situation in Yemen could go “from bad to worse”. That has happened: Yemen is in freefall. UN-led, U.S.-supported efforts to reach a nationwide ceasefire have borne no fruit. Nor have attempts to prevent a battle for Marib, the internationally recognised government’s last bastion in the north. Huthi rebels appear poised to launch another offensive on the city in the coming weeks and months. If Marib falls, and even if it does not, fighting is also likely to intensify on other fronts. A Saudi-brokered deal between the government and southern secessionists hangs by a thread, even after the sides formed a power-sharing government in December 2020. A Huthi takeover of Marib would also likely precipitate a fresh wave of conflict in Yemen’s south and west.

The humanitarian crisis continues to worsen amid huge aid shortfalls and a Yemeni government-imposed fuel embargo on Huthi-held territory. The UN has warned repeatedly that famine is imminent. Only the infusion of billions of dollars in aid has staved off mass starvation to date. But donors have pledged just half of the money the UN says it needs for 2021 amid a coronavirus-induced funding crunch. Fighting over Marib city could make aid agencies’ work harder by triggering mass displacement and further limiting the supply of basic commodities. On top of everything, a year after COVID-19’s spread in Yemen first drew global attention, the country is suffering its deadliest outbreak yet.

The EU and its member states should:

  • Send more aid, escalating Yemen’s status as a priority recipient of the EU’s global response to COVID-19 through joint initiatives between Brussels and member states; increasing humanitarian funding under the new budget programming; and accelerating discussions about investment in medium-term projects – away from front lines – that foster local stability.
  • Advocate for forming a UN-led international contact group to help coordinate the world’s response to Yemen’s disaster, including through more concerted diplomacy in support of a ceasefire and the peace process. Such a group should include the EU, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and representatives from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
  • Push the UN to shift its mediation efforts away from a two-party focus on the Huthis and the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi toward a more inclusive peace process that encompasses other political and armed factions as well as women’s and youth groups and other civil society actors.
  • Working within EU COVID-19 protocols, increase diplomatic outreach to the Huthis in Sanaa, the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council in Aden.

Marib Offensive and UN Mediation

Since early 2020, Huthi fighters have focused on taking Marib governorate, in particular the eponymous city, along with nearby oil, gas and electricity production facilities. The Huthi campaign has been intermittent, and the rebels have at times struggled to advance. Saudi Arabia, which is allied with the internationally recognised government led by Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, has mounted a fierce aerial defence. Thousands of Huthi and anti-Huthi fighters have been killed and injured over the course of the year. Yet the Huthis have shrugged off their losses. A clear trend has emerged on the ground: gradual if uneven Huthi progress, coupled with growing unease and falling morale among forces aligned with the Hadi government. Absent a major shift in the balance of power, the Huthis appear set to take more territory and gain greater leverage in talks with local leaders as they seek to negotiate the governorate’s surrender.

Absent a major shift in the balance of power, the Huthis appear set to take more territory and gain greater leverage in talks with local leaders as they seek to negotiate the governorate’s surrender.

Fearing a growing humanitarian and displacement crisis amid a major coronavirus outbreak, and aware that a Huthi takeover of Marib would have a knock-on effect on dynamics elsewhere in Yemen, UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths has sought since early 2020 to broker a nationwide ceasefire. In 2020, the Huthis told Griffiths they would agree to a truce if the Saudi-led coalition and Hadi government lifted all restrictions on Hodeida port on Yemen’s Red Sea coast and allowed the Sanaa airport to reopen to international flights after four years of Saudi-imposed closure. For much of the year, the government and the Saudis argued that the Huthi proposal gave the rebels too much and quibbled over the fine print in draft agreements.

The parties failed to reach an accord, and now the landscape has shifted. In early 2021, after making a series of rapid military gains, the rebels shifted the goalposts, insisting that the government and Saudis unblock the port and airport unilaterally before they would consider a truce. They also backed away from the prospect of a nationwide ceasefire, saying they would first consider a cross-border ceasefire under which they would stop drone and missile strikes on Saudi Arabia in return for a moratorium on Saudi airstrikes in Yemen, including Marib. Riyadh and the Hadi government deemed the Huthi position a non-starter. In turn, the Huthis rejected a public Saudi offer made in March to ease restrictions on Sanaa airport and resume negotiations over Hodeida in return for a nationwide ceasefire and a mutual halt to cross-border attacks.

Fresh U.S. Energy

The recent change in leadership in Washington has injected fresh energy into international efforts to stop the fighting, with President Joe Biden making ending the Yemen war a top Middle East policy priority along with returning to the Iran nuclear deal. In February, Biden announced that he was halting all offensive support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen. He also said the administration would cease some arms sales, remove the Huthis’ designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) and appoint a new U.S. special envoy for Yemen – a role now filled by veteran diplomat Timothy Lenderking. Lenderking has been highly active since his appointment, travelling regularly to the Gulf (but not yet Yemen), and pushing the Huthis and Saudis to agree to a truce.

Washington’s frustration with the Huthis is palpable.

Washington wishes to engineer a conflict outcome acceptable to both itself and Riyadh. Yet its ability to do so is limited, as the Huthis hold the upper hand. By publicly prioritising ending the Yemen war, the administration may also have given the Huthis, and their main external supporter Iran, the sense that the conflict represents a more valuable bargaining chip than in the past. Washington’s frustration with the Huthis is palpable, and U.S. officials appear to be increasingly convinced that they cannot persuade the rebels to abandon their quest for victory in Marib.

Humanitarian Meltdown

The rapid spread of COVID-19 has placed greater limits on aid agencies’ ability to work in Yemen, and on donors’ generosity toward a country the UN says is already the site of the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Yemen continues to sit at the brink of famine. Donors pledged $1.7 billion to fund the UN’s humanitarian appeal in March, less than half the figure the UN had asked for, leaving a $2 billion gap in the UN’s budget for the year. The UN humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, warned that as a result the UN “doesn’t have enough money to stop famine”.

A battle for Marib would make the humanitarian crisis still graver and more complex. Local government officials claim that two million people have moved to Marib since the war began six years ago, many of them with sufficient resources to settle and live without aid assistance, while UN estimates of poorer, formally displaced people living in temporary settlements hover around 700,000. In the event that fighting reaches Marib city, the UN believes that around 350,000 people will be displaced, seeking to travel either eastward to Seiyoun, a six-hour drive under normal circumstances, or southward to Shebwa. Both routes are likely to be dangerous, and fighting could cut off the Shebwa road entirely. The UN says it has contingency plans for a battle, but the response will put further strain on its already limited aid budget.

A Way Forward

With chances of a diplomatic breakthrough slim, Yemen’s trajectory in the coming months will largely be determined by developments in Marib. If the Huthis take Marib city, or negotiate its surrender, the government will lose its last major stronghold in the north; it may then face an attempted takeover by the Southern Transitional Council (STC) in southern governorates as well. A Huthi victory in Marib could also precipitate intra-Yemeni deal-making, most likely between the Huthis and one or more rival factions, potentially including the STC, at the expense of the Hadi government. Moreover, the STC and other groups are likely to press for a direct role in UN-led talks, rather than the indirect one they are afforded as part of the Saudi-brokered 2019 Riyadh Agreement. Even if the Huthis and government can reach a ceasefire in Marib, many local conflict parties remain sceptical it will last, or that it is in their interest to comply with its terms if they are not given a say in subsequent UN-led political talks.

For these reasons, whatever happens next in Marib, it is increasingly clear that the international approach to Yemen needs to be rethought. The UN’s current two-party mediation framework that focuses narrowly on the Huthis and the Hadi government (with Saudi Arabia active behind the scenes and wielding a de facto veto over any settlement) excludes many of the armed and political factions likely to influence the durability of a ceasefire or political settlement. It also boxes out political parties, civil society actors, women’s groups and youth organisations that have been crucial throughout the war to preserving local stability and social cohesion and whose buy-in and support will thus be important in sustaining any pact.

With EU support, Washington should advocate for an approach to peacemaking that takes into account the conflict’s deepening complexity and creates space for this range of actors.

With EU support, Washington should advocate for an approach to peacemaking that takes into account the conflict’s deepening complexity and creates space for this range of actors. The EU and Special Envoy Lenderking should press for the creation of a UN-chaired international contact group, which can revisit the UN mediation framework and encourage adoption of a new multi-party approach that better reflects the emerging reality on the ground. Such a body could establish a division of labour among its members to support the peace process, with sub-groups focusing on key topics such as sub-national conflicts (like the one between the government and STC), economic warfare and outreach to the Huthis in Sanaa, which has been constrained by COVID-19, with no senior diplomat visiting since early 2020.

A Role for the EU and Its Member States

The EU and its member states should bolster UN-led efforts to alleviate the humanitarian crisis. They should also help coordinate the international diplomatic response to the war.

The EU’s inclusion in an international contact group would allow EU representatives to act as a force multiplier, positioning them to solicit funds and diplomatic capacity from member states for issues the group determines to be priorities. The EU and member states can also, along with P5 members and others, push for contact group members to start making regular diplomatic trips to Sanaa, Aden and perhaps Marib to ensure better contact with the Huthis, the Hadi government and other relevant groups in Yemen, providing them with a clearer picture of international thinking about the conflict. The EU and its member states can also play an important role in advocating within the contact group for a more inclusive political process, and share their practical experience in brokering local truces, reopening roads and freeing prisoners.

Whether or not as part of any contact group, to help make the peace process properly inclusive, the EU and its member states should throw their weight behind efforts to press the UN Security Council to adopt a broader interpretation of Resolution 2216 (prevalent interpretations of which have unhelpfully limited UN mediation to two-party negotiations to end the fighting) so that the UN can introduce a quota for women and other civil society figures in direct talks. The EU should also work with the UN to establish a parallel mediation track with women’s and civil society organisations, that at a minimum enjoys a direct channel of communication with UN deliberations, and ideally leads to a substantive role in the negotiation of a political settlement for those involved. The EU already funds work for women’s inclusion; it should increase its support for and engagement with groups on the ground.

The EU and member states should also begin active discussions about how to increase humanitarian funding for Yemen in light of COVID-19’s continued spread, the troubling socio-economic indicators and the huge deficit facing UN aid agencies in 2021. The EU should make it an even greater priority to allocate extraordinary humanitarian funds in response to the virus and increase its development assistance through joint programming with member states under the new EU multi-annual budget. Finally, whether or not the war continues, the EU and member states should start making medium-term plans to help improve conditions – potentially entailing local infrastructure development, capacity-building support for local government and civil society organisations, small business loans and similar efforts in areas away from the front lines that are starved of basic services and governance. Such projects could help foster at least a modicum of stability away from the fighting and may prevent the further deterioration of local institutions.