Though 140,000 departures were initially announced by Ankara, about 30,000 people are actually stuck in the border zone, trapped in a power game, and increasingly vulnerable to the progression of COVID-19.
Why did Erdogan eventually choose to abandon the showdown on March 7th by putting an end to boat departures to the Greek islands, the real weak link on the European border? Is it the consequence of the ceasefire in Idlib concluded two days earlier with Russian president Vladimir Putin? Or is it the result of the low number of departing candidates among the 3.5 million Syrians who have already established their lives in Turkey and wish to stay as close as possible to their country in the hope of returning? In contrast to 2015, most of the refugees who rushed on the buses made available to them by the Turkish government are Afghans, Pakistanis, Iraqis or Iranians. As Kadri Gursel writes, Erdogan's threat of migration has now lost much of its value.