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Erdogan's Cynical Call To Grant Citizenship To Syrian Refugees

Syrian refugees in the Turkish border town of Kilis
Syrian refugees in the Turkish border town of Kilis
Mine Sogut

Since the start of Syria's civil war in 2011, more than 2.7 million Syrians have registered as refugees in neighboring Turkey, making it the largest host country for Syrian asylum seekers. The influx, combined with a rise in terrorist attacks in the country, have become pressing issues in Turkish politics.


ISTANBUL — Refugees… They are either drowning in the sea, or a burden on public finances. Their flight from war and drift to someone else's land only requires the art of reconstructing reality. We can write poems about them, take photographs, shoot movies, and conceptualize them until it becomes a work of fiction. But when it comes to pure reality, they stop being human beings and become numbers instead in the lives of us all.

There is, it seems, no shame from those getting rich off war and trying to use the agony of others to accumulate more profit. Then we stand in the face of the bombshell decision of Turkey's government, which flatters itself by presenting all its failures as success stories, to promise Turkish citizenship to Syrian refugees. For a person who thinks it's an accomplishment to govern a country like a company, it is customary to attempt major moves at the expense of the public alongside his own position and power.

Our leader President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is busy writing his subjective history. With the simplest calculation, he dreams of turning the Syrian population into an electoral advantage with this impromptu offer of citizenship. For years, he played with the fate of those people, and his own, without any sign of humanitarianism or ethics, but only with profit and loss calculations. He is still playing the same game.

Those who start wars and their subcontractors think that they have the right to play with people's lives. But if they dug under the surface of the civilization they inherited, they would see their dead ancestors still lying underneath the debris of this system and hear the stories of what has happened and what will happen to them.

We are all grandchildren of those countless people who were forced to flee their homelands in the South, North, West, and East during a time of war. The place we call our home is our motherland today, but is actually just a big lie, like ethnicity and religion. These lands belonged to someone else yesterday, are ours today, and will wind up somewhere else tomorrow.

It is tradition to visit the graves of relatives after the holy month of Ramadan. This time, visit the lost graves of your grandfathers and grandmothers, of their mothers and fathers, and of their mothers and fathers. Think of what's going on today in terms of the stories of your distant ancestors.

Where are you from?

Where is your father's side from? What about your mother's side? How many members of your family died in war or were held captive? How many went missing? How many of those were lost on the road during an attempt at migrating, or maybe couldn't handle the circumstances and went crazy? What about the population exchanges, exiles, just plain misery? Why did your lost predecessors travel all that way from the moment they were born until their death? What did they lose along the way?

This is the way human beings reproduce: By killing and oppressing one another. So, they always reproduce as they risk being diminished. The beliefs change, as does the language, and the skin color. Only the idea is fixed and dangerous. We are all survivors of wars, but we still consider ourselves different from one another.

Now, we look at all those refugees from a distance and think that they are not one of us. From a humanitarian perspective, we want to accept refugees as our own and make room in our lives for them. But from a political perspective we are opposed to it.

Yes, we are right to be opposed, because today, the leaders are loading the dice and taking an ugly and dangerous political gamble with millions of people's lives at stake. Still, trying to keep the refugees out of our lives is not the right response. Instead, we should keep the current government out of our lives. And war, which makes us believe that we are different and always right, should never be used by the government in power to dictate our conscience.

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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