As the numbers of Syrian refugees in Turkey may soon top the 100,000 mark, there are clear indications that the humanitarian, peaceful and civilian character of asylum is threatened.
Recent reports confirm active recruitment of refugees by elements of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), refugees joining the FSA of their own volition, as well as the usage of camps as organizational and logistical hubs by the FSA and its supporters. The conflation of two supposedly divergent entities – combatants and non-combatants, together with the distinct spaces each should occupy – is familiar from Afghanistan, Darfur, Kosovo, Rwanda and elsewhere. The militarization of refugeehood not only deprives refugees of rightful protection and sanctuary, but also contributes to the protractedness of conflict. The current crisis and the nature of displacement add to the complexities of the security relationship between Damascus and Ankara. This policy brief, authored by Mark Naftalin and Kristian Berg Harpviken, is rooted in a larger project on refugee militarization, and attempts to sum up the status of current knowledge of the situation for Syrians in Turkey and to suggest some general implications.
The same topic was the subject of an op. ed. published in Dagsavisen (in Norwegian) on 29 August, by the same authors; subsequently published in English version on the ISN Security Watch website under the title 'Conflating Spaces: Syrian Rebels and Refugees in South Turkey'.