An exclusive interview of MEPEI with Turkish journalist Burak Bekdil . July 15, 2014

Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based freelance journalist. He writes a column for the Turkish Daily News and covers defense and security for the U.S. weekly Defense News. He also writes for other western publications. Bekdil was formerly the Ankara correspondent for Dow Jones Newswires and Ankara bureau chief for the Ankara-based CNBC-e television.

Which are the implications of the Syrian migration to Turkey, regarding the fact that Turkey sustained the opposition of the Assad regime?

The Syrian migration is problematic for a number of reasons. It is an increasingly difficult financial burden. But beyond that it has social damages too. There are now hundreds of thousands of immigrants that disappeared from camps and scattered throughout Turkish cities, illegal workers, beggars etc. There is risk of contagious diseases they may bring in. There is the risk of crime these people may get involved. Then, illegal employment. And more importantly, some of these people are believed to have links with terrorist organisations which may cause terror activity on Turkish territory.

Considering the fact that there are Turks directly involved in the Iraq conflict, how does Ankara see these events?

Ankara may be repenting its open-secret support for the extremists. Now it is in a difficult situation as it has been caught between Assad and its radical opponents. Turkey is realising that its fierce anti-Assad policy has been counter-productive as it fueled sectarian divisions and violence in the region something Ankara does not want.

Ankara has long been implicated in Baghdad policy regarding the energy supply, how does the current events will affect these implications?

Ankara now has to rely more on its strategic ties with the Kurds while at home it is trying to instrument a fragile peace process with autonomy-minded Turkish Kurds. Turkey, ironically, now must rely on a “Kurdish security belt” in northern Iraq and parts of northern Syria to protect its territory from the infiltration and terrorist attacks of radical Islamists.

How the influence of ISIS at the border with Syria will affect Turkey`s security, considering the fact that Turkey hasn`t sent forces against them?

Turkey cannot military engage ISIS as long as the group holds 49 Turkish hostages. Once the hostages have been released Turkey will rethink its security policies with a view to enhancing its border security along both Syrian and Iraqi territories.

How do you explain the Turkey conflict with Syria and Iraq regarding the control of the Euphrates?

In line with regional developments in recent years the dispute over Euphrates has been sidelined. It is a dispute probably growing in the background but not a priority matter for Ankara at the moment.

In your opinion which are the Turkey’s security vulnerabilities caused by Erdogan`s government politics?

Erdogan’s regional policy has been a fiasco. It has exposed Turkey to the risk of terrorist attacks from its south and southeast, deepened divisions with the Iraqi government and Tehran, created two cold wars with Israel and Egypt and more recently caused hostility in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

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