Is Erdoğan using the mostly-Syrian migrants as a bargaining chip to recalibrate his country's failed admission to the EU?

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has often argued that Christian Europe should admit more Muslim refugees.
 
  • "I'll tell you strictly Muslim-to-Muslim. These (European social workers) are funny. I don't know why on earth they are in love with a Muslim cause that even we Muslims despise." — Syrian migrant to the author, Lesbos, Greece.
 
  • "The Syrian refugee crisis in lands stretching from the Middle East into the heart of Europe is another episode in a grandiose, multi-faceted Middle Eastern dilemma: Muslims in this part of the world view the Christian West as 'evil;' yet they know Christian lands are the most decent places to live economically and politically." — Burak Bekdil, 2015.


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in September, launched a scathing attack on the European Union. He accused the EU of having not done enough to support the refugees and claimed that the EU should pay Turkey more than it pledged (three billion euros).
 
Erdoğan has often argued that Christian Europe should admit more Muslim refugees. In a 2016 speech, he angrily threatened to open the floodgates of migrants into Europe again (in 2015 alone, three quarters of a million migrants passed through Turkey on their way to Europe).
 
Is Erdoğan using the mostly-Syrian migrants as a bargaining chip to recalibrate his country's failed admission to the EU? Is he simply carpet-trading by trying to maximize the amount of European money coming as aid into Turkey? No doubt, but not only that. His Islamist ideology dictates that the number of Muslims living in all corners of the Old Continent should one day herald a demographic victory for Islam.
 
"Occupying infidel lands" by the force of sword was an Ottoman idea. Occupying infidel lands through demographics is one of the features of post-modern Islamism, as Muslim nations, unlike the Ottoman Empire, lack the military might needed for military invasion.

Recent events on the Greek island of Lesbos, where the welcoming local population has been extremely helpful to all Muslim migrants, show the more realistic side of the Muslim immigration into Christian lands. Even Pope Francis visited the mostly Syrian migrants in two camps on the island of Lesbos in April 2016 to express his solidarity with them and raise awareness regarding their plight.

 

In April, however, serious clashes between migrants and locals were reported in the main square of Mytilene, the chief port town of Lesbos. For about a week, migrants occupied the main square to protest their conditions. The demonstrations first sparked the anger of locals, and then some far-right groups who wanted the square cleared.
 
The clashes were followed by more serious news. A television report by Deutsche Welle claimed that criminal gangs of Syrians sympathetic to the Islamic State (ISIS) had established a reign of terror in the Moria migrant camp on Lesbos. The report, partly shot in secret, showed pro-ISIS slogans on the walls of the overcrowded camp.
 
Apparently, it was not only the inhumane conditions at the Moria camp about which the migrants felt sick. Unidentified migrant groups vandalized a crucifix on Lesbos. Only a few days later, and in a second act of desecrating Orthodox symbols, extremist Muslims on the island vandalized and destroyed a small proskinitari (a small shrine that holds an icon).

This much tension on an otherwise peaceful Greek island does not happen without a reason. In 2017, a Syrian migrant on Lesbos told this author, "I'll tell you strictly Muslim-to-Muslim. These [European social workers] are funny. I don't know why on earth they are in love with a Muslim cause that even we Muslims despise."
 
The same year on the same island to the same author, an Afghan said, "One day, we good Muslims will conquer their infidel lands."
 
At the start of the refugee crisis in 2015, you can read in this journal:
 

"The Syrian refugee crisis in lands stretching from the Middle East into the heart of Europe is another episode in a grandiose, multi-faceted Middle Eastern dilemma: Muslims in this part of the world view the Christian West as 'evil;' yet they know Christian lands are the most decent places to live economically and politically. Wealthy Arab states rigidly turn their back on the plight of fellow Muslims who are in need of a helping hand; and Islamist hypocrites blame it all on the West."

 
Three years later, it is truer than ever.
 
Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey's leading journalists, was recently fired from the country's most noted newspaper after 29 years, for writing in Gatestone what is taking place in Turkey. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.