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What backgrounds of granting nationality to tens thousands of Syrian in Turkey?

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Jad Al-Amin: Istanbul

 Before one year and a half, a local Turkish phone number called to the Syrian refugee, Jihad Rahal, the content of the calling was ambiguous for him, because he doesn’t know the Turkish language.

At the next day the same number called him again, with a ” weak” Arabic language, the caller told Jihad that he is an employer of the Immigration Department, and asked him to provide his documents for obtaining the Turkish nationality, at the first the young Syrian thought that it is just a”joke” from one of his friends .

At the next day Jihad went to the Immigration Department in Gaziantep city (southern of Turkey) to check it out, he asked employees who talking the Arabic language about the caller’s number and the content of demand , they asserted to him that the call is real and the phone number really belongs to the Immigration Department .

Jihad is a 28 years old youth, from Idlib countryside, holding a Syrian secondary school’s certificate, residing in Aleslahia camp, he says to the person who prepares the investigation, ” in spite of that I will lose the aid & housing at the camp, but surely I prefer obtaining the Turkish nationality to be able working legally or travel to another country for work, after I became a semi-prisoner here because I can’t move among Turkish cities, and if I left turkey I can’t return back “.

Jihad not the only one who nominates to obtain the Turkish nationality, the person who prepared this investigation has documented dozens of cases inside and outside the camp that really obtained the nationality and a lot of them do not have a university certificates, and this contradicts with the Turkish official narrative that the nationalization is targeting the Competencies Syrians only.

This reality makes the resident Syrian at Turkish lands in front of many questions, why they are nationalized? What the aim of that in the near and long term? How many persons of the Syrians were nationalized? And where is concentrated their biggest percentage? We are trying in this investigation answering of these questions and other during making interviews with the experts, politician and Syrians have obtained the Turkish nationality. “And others still waiting for their roles amid the absence of a clear & followed methodology, to choose the nominees, for the Turkish nationality from the resident Syrians in the Turkish lands”, as saying the experts and the persons who follow-up the matter.

For five months, the investigation detected providing documents of 360 Syrian for obtaining the Turkish nationality at Hatay state alone. And each of the Syrian governorates: Aleppo & Idlib which is taking the highest rates of nationalization, and the Turkish Gaziantep & Hatay governorates are occupied the first ranks among the Turkish cities which the Syrians were nationalized inside it, due to the intensive presence for Syrians south of the country.

The lawyer: Gazwan krunful, of the Free Syrian lawyers gathering, “None precisely knows the criteria, which is followed by the Turkish government for nationalization the Syrians? And who are the nominees for that? And there are doctors and academic persons in turkey since five years and most of them are waiting for nationalization but in vain, In spite of that the Turkish government said two years ago, that Syrian nationalization is targeted the competences “.

– Comparison between granting the Turkish nationality for Syrians & foreigners:

Exceptional nationality conditions for Syrians:

– A directly call from the Immigration Department to the nominee for nationalization (there aren’t any criteria).

– Recommendation of an official governmental party, or close to the government (political Syrian mostly).

The Turkish nationality conditions for foreigners:

– Real estate investment, in a value of $ 250 thousand dollars.

-Bank deposit, in a value of $ 500 thousand dollars.

– Work/labor residence for 5 years without exceeding the period in abroad of 6 months, with paying taxes during all of this period and learn the Turkish language fluently.

– Marriage of a Turkish girl, and the continuation and stability of marriage for 3 years at least.

– Ancestries and proving that by documents and Turkish courts.

– The persons who are providing great services, for Turkish state on the economic or industrial or scientific or cultural or arts or sports level.

A foothold

The absence of precise numbers creates a lot of questions about the numbers of nationalized Syrians refugees, by the Turkish opposition and the Syrian street itself, in the same time experts & analysts consider that the nationalization has a linked goal in creating influence to Turkey inside Syria in the future.

“There is an idea on the table that the goal of nationalizing Syrian is doing on the basis to create a foothold at Aleppo & Idlib regions, but I assert that the nationalizing operation is including the Syrians from the different Syrian governorates, not on regional basis, but maybe there is a far goal for the Turkish state, to create a human element to be a supporter of it at the regions close to the border (Turkish) “as referred by Krunful.

To verify the speech of experts & the persons who follow-up the Syrian nationalization case, the person who prepared this investigation has made an opinion poll at a random sample of Syrians, about the percentage of who obtained the Turkish nationality at the Syrian density’s cities in Turkey.

By asking the following question to measure levels of obtaining the nationality from Syrians, did you obtain the Turkish nationality or you submitted your documents to take it?

The results which were taken of fifty Syrians in Istanbul, Gaziantep, and Hatay, shown that 6 of 10 persons interacted with the opinion poll, obtained the nationality or submitted their documents in Istanbul. While this percentage increased in Gaziantep to 2 of 10 and 3 of 10 in Hatay state.

In another opinion poll included 90 Syrians were nationalized or submitted their documents recently at the same three cities, and the opinion poll’s question was, which is the Syrian city you are from?

The high percentage of nationalized people was from Aleppo and its countryside: 25.5%, Idlib: 23.3%, Damascus & Damascus countryside: 23.3%, latakia: 12.2%.

And in the absence of reliable numbers & accurate governmental statics, the nationalization operation still happened continuously in most of the Turkish states after its stopping for several months in some states.

In Gaziantep at south , the local Turkish television “Mega ” published a news on the last 30 November , about that the Immigration Department  at the city resumed the nationalization operation for Syrians irrespective of the qualifications or conditions, after its stopping before months for unknown reasons.

Abed Alrefai, from Damascus he is residing in Istanbul, on October 2018 he submitted a request for obtaining the nationality after a text message which was sent to the company accountant’s cell phone, which he is working in it, that he must go to the Immigration Department in Istanbul, and when we asked him about his opinion of why is Turkey nationalizes the Syrians?

“He has a labor residency since two years ago, and giving him the nationality based on that, and his opinion that the nationality to facilitate his work and to dispose of foreigners residency procedures”, As Alrefai said.

” The nationalized Syrians form a strategic depth for Turkey currently , after solving the conflict in Syria & returning back the Syrian refugees of who obtained the Turkish nationality” , as saying Mustafa Hamed Uglu , the head of the Syrian community in Istanbul .

As for Ayham Numaan (alias name), from Aleppo city, who was waiting his wife’s father to obtain the Turkish nationality to enable him obtains it by his wife, he doesn’t care about the reason of granting him the nationality, ” All what I want to dispose of difficulties of obtaining a Syrian passport’s and to dispose of the residency transactions & brokers and to obtain the right of owning house in Turkey”, as he is saying.

Naturally ,obtaining the Turkish nationality is considers a facilitation factor for residence in Turkey , so no needs to renew the Turkish residency and the Syrian passport, where the Syrian consulate in Istanbul is granting the Syrian citizens a passport valid for two years with a cost of $800 U.S, in addition, $ 350 a cost of the appointment & consulate fees, in another hand, the Turkish passport for 10 years costs $140 , and the ability to travel to 69 countries around the world with entrance visa .

-Distributing the nationalized persons, originally according to their Syrian cities as follows:

1.1 % Deir Azzor     1.1% Hama     2.2% Raqqa         4.4% Hasaka

6.6% Homs   25.5 Aleppo & Aleppo countryside        23.3 Idlib

23.3 % Damascus & Damascus countryside               12.2 latakia

0 % Tartous , Daraa & Swidaa

This opinion poll, which based on a sample of 90 Syrians have obtained the Turkish nationality recently in Istanbul, Hatay & Gaziantep.

The nationality is for scientific competencies!

In Turkish Hatay state (south), the investigation preparer documented nationalization & submitting documents of 360 Syrians, from end of April till end of November 2018, during monitoring comments of the nationalized persons , who submitted their documents through a group by (Whatsapp) application , regarding to the nationalized persons from Hatay or who were nominated for it.

“Here didn’t refuse any submitted request for obtaining the nationality” saying one of the Immigration Department’s employee.

Mahmoud Ghazal , residing at Hatay state which near to the Syrian border, from Latakia & Idlib side, he obtained the Turkish nationality in spite of that he did not has any Scientific & scholastic qualification or any private work and he is from Idlib , and currently he owns a small restaurant in “Rihania” city , and he is one of the middle-income persons .

“I am very happy by obtaining the Turkish nationality, and I don’t care about my Syrian passport, currently I am working as a Turkish, I can travel and I have secured the medical care for my children & their future, and the most important thing that I can buy a house, and I don’t intend to return back to Syria never “.

Ezz Eddin Alali, a pediatric doctor, and he have a work residency in Istanbul since two years, and no one called to him, for submitting to get the nationality, he is waiting that “eagerly” as he is saying.

Getting, “a Syrian passport & Turkish labor residency became very exhausted & cost matter”.

“We are Syrian’s competencies and the government said that it will nationalize the competencies, so where it is? Alali is asking.

This reality is contrary to the assurances of Turkish government officials in more than one occasion & declarations which reported by media, one of it a declaration of the last Turkish Prime Minister Yilderm – currently the president of the Perlman, that “granting the Turkish nationality will be only for competencies’ persons from Syrians “.

Mahmoud Alhalabi is another Syrian, he got the Turkish nationality two years ago, and he added an amendment on his family name (nickname), by adding (Uglu) word,

And He is of Turkmen descents, he submitted his documents for nationality, through known persons by him in the Directorate of Awqaf / Endowment, which has a paved way to nominates names of certain persons for nationality, his father a religion man and has relations with Directorate of Awqaf and he is speaking Turkish fluently.

As too Safi Alrefai from Damascus, holding a bachelor in Arabic language, before 5 months his refuge request to Canada was accepted, and when he decided to travel at the determined appointment they did not allow him, because his name included inside the nominees lists for nationality.

Thus he had to postpone his travel 15 days and he paid financial amounts until he becomes able through brokers, the governor’s known persons and Directorate of Immigration in Istanbul to remove his name from those lists to allow him to travel.

The Turkish states which the Syrians percentages are exceeding of 15 % of the total population:

Gaziantep: 20%           Orfa: 23%          Hatay: 28%        Kles: 91%

The criteria of nationalization are” absent”:

There are no fixed answers at the Immigration Department’s officials, after going the person who prepared this investigation to the central Immigration Department in Ankara, for asking about the required criteria for Syrians to get the nationality, about the receiving requests and giving appointments, “No fixed criteria, wait for call or a message in case you were nominated “. As the official said.

The situation doesn’t different in Istanbul, through asking the Civil Status Affairs’ director by the person who prepared the investigation at the city about the number of the nationalized Syrians, he refused to declare about any official numbers.

Before five years ago from now, and before the parliament & presidency elections, “30 thousands Syrians will vote at the parliament & presidency elections, after they have gotten the Turkish nationality” as said Binali Yildirm in a press statement reported by “Reuters”, and in consideration that the average of the Syrian family in turkey is 4 persons, so the number indicates to about 120 thousands nationalized person, and those rates were doubted by the Turkish opposition.

Through this reality, “Up to date, the numbers of nationalized Syrians do not exceed 50 thousand, and in consideration that everyone has a family of 3 persons, so we are in front of 200 thousand nationalized Syrians” as asserted by the lawyer Gazwan krunful.

“We do not know the hidden & the real number but certainly more & more than that” As Unal Chivek Oz, the deputy head of the opposed Republican People’s Party to the government.

Economic interdependence enhances the Turkish influence:

According to the Turkish Ministry of Interior, “Kels” the southern border city which considers the most Syrians presence inside it, and their percentage reaches 91% of the state’s population, and it is itself the state which inside it, the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is unleashed the issue of granting the Syrians competencies & investors the Turkish nationality exceptionally, in July 2016.

According to the Directorate of Trade & Customs data in southern Anatolia, the amount of Turkey exports to both of “Dire Alfurat” and “Ghusin Alzaytun” areas are $ 560 million dollars, and these numbers indicate strongly indicating the economic interdependence between it and the nearby Turkish cities.

And that accompanied with giving the permission of the Turkish government to the Turkish cars, investors & Turkish traders for going to Dire Alfurat’s areas across Jarablus crossing and returning back when they want, according to the local people asserts, to the investigation’s preparer.

The nationality for political purposes!

In spite of the Turkish government’s asserts that it will not grant the nationality to all Syrians which their numbers reached 3.5 million Syrian, so the Turkish opposition is accusing of the government in demographic changing in order to win the voters votes in the future.

So Camille Okaye Sender , the general secretary for the Republican People Party and he is one of the most prominent Turkish opposition parties, he  considers in a press statement to a group of journalists during November of 2018 that nationalize the Syrians is “a cover to achieve political goals”.

And “Yani Akeet” the Turkish journal which reported on the previous deputy of the opposition Republican people party Omot Oran that: ” the Syrians during 10 years will form about 10 percent of the population and that will leave a social, cultural and political effect on Turkey “.

“The nationalization of Syrians is concentrated at the south of Turkey due to the high intensive population for Syrians at sates of Hatay –Mersin –Orfa –Gaziantep – Kahraman, and Aramch” as saying the lawyer Krunful.

The reality is saying that the number of Syrian in Istanbul is exceeding on the half million, and the nationalized persons’ percentage not high as the results of the questionnaire showed, which has made by the investigation’s preparer.

And that imposes many new questions about the reason for increasing the nationalization rates at the south Turkish cities.

“The intensive nationalization hypothesis at the south Turkish areas, not related in elections issues or increasing votes of Justice and Development Party at these areas”, as saying the lawyer Krunful.

And he negates that the goal of nationalization in these areas for housing the nationalized persons in these areas to make a demographic changing, the authority, as he said “don’t have the right to force the residence at a certain area on the citizen”.

And Ibrahim Egman from “Denise” Center for polls, the same opinion, he thinks that “The authority cannot force a certain residence at certain cities on the citizens, but any Turkish citizen doesn’t have the right in any elections happening in Turkey, to elect outside of his department (his domicile registration place), unless he transferred it to his new city, and this is not a difficult step and it can be applied in any time “.

3.5 Million Syrians in Turkey (Ministry of Turkish Interior)

According to these statistics, the Syrians in Turkey form 4.2% of the total population for the country which estimated in 83 million people according to the Turkish statistics institute (Turkestat).

The position of the Turkish opposition and the street

There are different opinions in the Turkish street between rejectionists and pro-nationalization for Syrians, for many for many considerations linked to Syrians’ competition in the labor market, and the acquisition of governmental financial aids.

“Today there are more than 300 thousand Syrians have submitted their requests and we refuse to nationalize all these numbers and we do not accept that, because the nationalization process is happening not according to clear foundations” as Tashfik Oz , the deputy head of The People Party is saying to the investigation’s preparer.

Miral Uwkushnar , the leader of “Aljayid “party which dissident of the nationalist      movement , which established at the end of 2017 , she said ” The nationalization of Syrians should be stopped and agree with Syrian government “.

Yagmur Neil Gul, a Turkish citizen is clarifying that:” we don’t find work opportunities to give the nationality to Syrians”, and Zaki Banar, a Turkish citizen sees that “If they will work and pay the taxes I don’t have any problem in their obtaining the nationality”.

And this refusal for the Syrians nationalization process can be understood from convictions of the Turkish street and the opposition that the Syrians are causing unemployment to the Turks, in exchange for huge financial assistance from the Turkish government for them, and this is the conclusion of the general opinion polls about the Turks’ sight to the Syrians refugees.

This has been made by the Turkish police academy on 24 November 2018, and which its results were published by the Turkish channel “TRT HABER”.

Is this a granting nationality or for making them as Turks?

The Syrians nationalization’s issue and its development Coincides with the closure of the Syrian schools which are teaching by Arabic language, and forcing the Syrians students to enter the Turkish schools or going to the highly expensive private schools, which most of Syrians cannot bear its cost.

So the risks of the blending & nationalization process are become the last nail  in belonging the majority of the newborn babies & children to their country, even if number of them are nationalized or from the new “Turks”.

While the process of Syrians’ nationalization in turkey is going on, and blending the Syrians students in the Turkish schools and follow-up their scientific achievement in the Turkish language, and closing horizon of the near returning to Syria, because of risks losing the life, the deterioration of the local economy and establishing of economical projects in Turkey.

the Process of Making the next generation” as Turks /Turkification”, with vigorous attempts to make the current generation from Turkey’s Syrians as Turks, seems to be going on, in its way to becoming in future as Syria’s Turks.

This investigative story was completed by Syrian Investigative Reporting for Accountability Journalism – (SIRAJ). Published on DARAJ

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