"Forget It": Turkey Throws Up On EU Refugee "Plan" As NATO Sends Ships To Nab "People Smugglers"

“Forget it.”

That’s Turkish ambassador to the EU Selim Yenel’s message to Europe in response to a Dutch plan that would resettle 250,000 refugees per year directly from Turkey if Ankara can manage to close off the Aegean sea route to Greece.

Turkey is of course a key chokepoint for migrants fleeing Syria and the situation is expected to worsen materially going forward as Hezbollah and Russia advance on Aleppo, the country’s second-largest city where the opposition is making what amounts to a last stand against Moscow’s air force and Hassan Nasrallah’s advancing army. This was the scene at the border last week:

“If Turkey is not engaged, not committed and doesn’t start to deliver … it will be very difficult to manage the situation,” Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU commissioner in charge of migration said. “If they really want, they can do the job on the ground.”

Not so, says Yenel.

It’s unacceptable and it’s not feasible,” he said, deriding the Dutch plan. Effectively, the EU wants Turkey to let in the all of the refugees fleeing Aleppo ahead of what will likely be a direct assault on the city in the coming weeks, but as The Guardian notes, Brussels is simultaneously “demanding that Ankara close the western and northern routes to Europe.”

“We’re surprised that the Europeans should say we should open the borders to Syrians from Aleppo when we’ve been doing that for five years,” Yenel said. “It is all unfolding, another tsunami. How are we going to cope?” he asked, reflecting the exasperation Turks are experiencing after sheltering some 3 million Syrians, triple the number of total refugees German took in last year.

“Avramopoulos unveiled new plans to force Turkey and Greece to take asylum seekers back from the rest of Europe,” The Guardian goes on to write. “But the scheme would not apply to Syrians, who are virtually assured of successful asylum claims in the EU, and perhaps also Iraqis and Afghans.”

Substantially all of those entering Greece via the Aegean Sea route are either Syrian, Afghan, or Iraqi. Athens has been threatened with expulsion from Schengen if it can’t bring its procedures for coping with the migrant flows in line with European “norms” - whatever that means.

All of this comes as leaked documents reveal Erdogan effectively blackmailed the EU last year by promising to “send refugees in buses” into Europe if Brussels didn’t hand over billions and as NATO sends ships to the Aegean to deter people smugglers from moving refugees from Turkey to the shores of Greece.

Obviously, the NATO mission doesn’t exactly sound like it’s compatible with the compassionate, open-door policy Europe is keen on projecting, but as Jens Stoltenberg will tell you, it’s not about “stopping or pushing back refugee boats,” it’s about obtaining “critical information and surveillance to help counter human trafficking.”

“The decision marks the security alliance's first intervention in Europe's migrant crisis,” BBC writes. US defence secretary Ashton Carter says it’s critical that NATO target the "criminal syndicate that is exploiting these poor people.”

Of course if Ash Carter was really concerned about those “poor people,” perhaps he should consider not bombing the countries from which they are fleeing. Say what you will about Saddam, Assad, and the Taliban, but Iraqis, Syrians, and Afghans weren’t running for their lives to Western Europe by the millions prior to American interventions in their countries’ affairs.