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Can Kilicdaroglu Revoke the Turkish Citizenship of Syrians and Hand Them Over to the United States?

Written by Feras Dallatey
Misbar's Editorial Team Misbar's Editorial Team
30th May 2023
Can Kilicdaroglu Revoke the Turkish Citizenship of Syrians and Hand Them Over to the United States?
CNN reported on the deportation of Syrians in coordination with America (Getty)

Recently, there has been widespread speculation on social media platforms about a statement attributed to the renowned Turkish journalist Ismet Ozcelik. According to the claim, Ozcelik revealed during an interview with CNN Türk that he had obtained confidential information from conversations between the previous presidential candidate challenging Erdogan, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and the member of parliament and leader of the Victory Party, Omer Ozdag. The information allegedly suggests that Kilicdaroglu planned to revoke Turkish citizenship from naturalized Syrians in Turkey and hand them over to the United States to be relocated to the eastern Euphrates regions under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Plans of Deporting Syrians in Coordination with the United States

Ismet Ozcelik discussed this matter in an episode of the program "What's Happening?" aired on CNN Türk, along with journalists Ozay Sahin and Gurbuz Efe. The interview took place on the evening of Saturday, May 20, where Ozcelik shared his insights on the upcoming second round of elections, the endorsement of the candidate by Sanan Ogan, and Kilicdaroglu's remarks on the events being "referendums rather than elections," and the implications thereof.

صورة متعلقة توضيحية
Photo Description: A screenshot of the interview.

Ozcelik began his statement at 1:54 in the episode and mentioned that an unidentified official from the Republican People's Party, led by Kilicdaroglu, informed him of the party's plan regarding Syrian refugees. The plan allegedly involves coordinating with the United States to deport them to new industrial areas that the U.S. will establish near the Turkish provinces of Sanliurfa, Hatay, and Mardin, close to the Kurdish-controlled regions under the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). According to Ozcelik, they will not be sent back to Syria. However, he did not mention denaturalizing Syrians holding a Turkish citizenship.

Furthermore, Ozcelik stated that this plan is part of the United States' strategy to establish an independent government led by the Kurdistan Workers' Party in the Kurdish regions and strengthen its ties with Israel. He emphasized the potential security threat this poses to Turkey. It is important to note that Ozcelik's discussion focused on refugees in Turkey and did not touch upon Syrians holding Turkish citizenship. Additionally, his statements were based on an alleged leak from an opposition party official, rather than a conversation between Kilicdaroglu and Ozdag.

The Theory of a "New Israel" in Southeastern Turkey

Ismet Ozcelik's statement to CNN Türk aligns with an op-ed he published in the Turkish newspaper Yeni Akit on Sunday, May 21, titled "The Republican People's Party's Dangerous Plan in Syria." The article provided further details on the aforementioned claim. According to Ozcelik, Syrian refugees are considered as an influential factor in electoral choices. He allegedly learned from a high-ranking official in the Republican People's Party that they were planning a serious security problem for Turkey. The article summarized the official's plan as follows: they would collaborate with the Americans, who would establish industrial zones in Turkey and east of the Euphrates, to which Syrians would be relocated.

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Photo Description: A screenshot of the OP-ED.

Ozcelik noted that the Republican People's Party did not engage with Bashar al-Assad regarding Syrian refugees but instead turned to the Americans. The party was promised the creation of "qualified industrial zones" in eastern Euphrates, where Kurdish parties such as the Kurdistan Workers' Party and the Democratic Union Party hold control, and Syrians would be sent there.

The ultimate goal of this plan is to establish a Kurdish Workers' Party-sponsored state with American support, connecting the region to Israel and the United States under the protection of 80,000 American soldiers. The article concluded with the phrase "to unify Kurdistan economically, divided into four states. Then to establish the second Israel." However, the article did not provide sources or mention any specific plans related to Syrians holding Turkish citizenship.

Can Kilicdaroglu Revoke Turkish Citizenship?

Turkish authorities have the power to revoke citizenship from citizens, but the decision lies solely with the President and is made on a case-by-case basis according to the available information. There are four reasons that can lead to the loss of Turkish citizenship, and when the authorities discover any of these reasons, the findings are forwarded to the Office of the Turkish Presidency. The final decision in this regard rests with the President. The four reasons are as follows:

  1. If a person holding Turkish citizenship is found to be voluntarily working for the benefit of a foreign country, and their services to that country are not in line with Turkey's interests. In this case, citizenship is not immediately revoked; rather, the Turkish authorities urge the person in question to cease such activities within three months. If they fail to comply with the authorities' order, they will lose their Turkish citizenship.
  2. If a Turkish citizen voluntarily works for a foreign state during an officially declared war against Turkey without exclusive permission from the Turkish President. It is worth noting that Turkey and Syria, despite conflicting interests and positions in recent years, have not officially declared war against each other.
  3. If a Turkish citizen voluntarily joins the military services of a foreign state without permission from the Turkish authorities.
  4. If a Turkish citizen is found guilty of committing crimes listed in Articles 302, 309, 310, 311, 312, 313, 314, and 317 of the Turkish Penal Code (all of which are crimes related to jeopardizing the security of the Turkish state and its constitutional order). In this case as well, if the person is abroad due to fleeing from investigation and trial, the citizenship is not immediately revoked. Instead, the Ministry of Justice urges them to return to Turkey within three months, and failure to comply will result in the loss of citizenship.

There is one specific reason for revoking Turkish citizenship related to naturalized Turkish citizens rather than native-born citizens. It occurs when the Turkish authorities discover that citizenship was obtained based on false statements or by concealing essential facts that could have influenced the acquisition of citizenship. When such doubts arise, the Ministry of Interior investigates the matter and revokes citizenship based on any evidence confirming those doubts.

Results of the Turkish Presidential Elections

The second round of the Turkish presidential elections concluded on Sunday, May 28, with the incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the leader of the Republican People's Party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, as the candidates. Erdogan won a new five-year term with 52.09% of the votes, while Kilicdaroglu received 47.91%, after 99.17% of the votes were counted.

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