Europe could soon feel the fallout from Idlib

Source:Financial Times Date:12Feb2020

Russia cannot deliver on its claim to repatriate Syrian refugees. The Assads will not allow the recreation of a demographic balance — a prewar population with a roughly 70 per cent Sunni majority — that so nearly brought them down. It is preventing the return of Sunni Arab men and boys of fighting age and “reconstructing” by expropriating the homes and assets of refugees.

For its part, Turkey wants the EU to support its creation of a buffer zone in Kurdish areas across northern Syria, to prevent them linking up with Kurdish insurgents inside its borders. In addition to its two existing enclaves in the north-west, Ankara invaded the north-east after US forces pulled back from October. Its aim was to push back Syrian Kurd militia that had spearheaded the fight against Isis until US president Donald Trump suddenly dumped them. Mr Erdogan proposes to resettle millions of Sunni Arab refugees there — and wants EU aid to do so. While that is not realistic, he could drive out Kurds and create a new influx of refugees.