The Iskenderun model: Invade, settle, hold referendum

The threat posed by the Turkish state’s collaboration with organizations derived from Al Qaeda and ISIS with the label FSA slapped on them can be summarized in 3 parts. The plan, “invade, settle, hold a referendum” in short, is known as Iskenderun model.

The invasion attack launched by the Turkish army and their jihadist-salafi coalition against Afrin is about to complete its first month. In the 28 days past, Afrin has turned into an area of struggle that will reshape all regional balances. The new situation poses a real threat against all forces active in Syria and risks changing the demographic structure -and the political map- of the country.

The threat posed by the Turkish state’s collaboration with organizations derived from Al Qaeda and ISIS with the label FSA slapped on them can be summarized in 3 parts. The plan, “invade, settle, hold a referendum” in short, is known as the Iskenderun model.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan first said the invasion attacks aim to “ensure border security”, but in the following days he called the Syrian army an invading force, and said the “true owners of the land will be settled in the region”. Erdoğan’s comments were the first hint in the “Iskenderun model” they want to update and implement, and could be formulated as the “new national revolutionary army” will “liberate the motherland” from the “invading Syrian regime”.


The Turkish state invaded a 2.000 square kilometer area in Syria including Bab, Azaz, Rai and Jarablus in 2016 under the guise Euphrates Shield. The Euphrates Shield invasion aimed to sever the connection between the Cizire and Afrin cantons, as Turkey appointed district governors and local administrators to the area in time, creating this de facto situation. The towns are governed by Antep Deputy Governors, many Turkmen families were settled in the area and many Turkish language schools were set up.

Another area the Turkish state is active in Syrian territory through Al Qaeda, salafist jihadis and FSA remnants is Idlib. Since the first days of the Syrian civil war, Idlib has been turned into a main base area for organizations supported by Turkey, and the province has been under Turkish army occupation since October 2017 as part of a “no-conflict zone” agreement signed by Turkey, Russia and Iran.

The Turkish army continues to act as a shield for the Hayat Tahrir Al Sham group, headed by Al Nusra. After Erdoğan announced that “the operation (would) continue in Idlib as well as Afrin” when the regime army advanced in Idlib, the Turkish army attempted to dispatch 3 consequent armored vehicle convoys to the south of Aleppo. These attempts were prevented by Russia and the Syrian army, but the “war for hegemony” in Idlib is expected to intensify in the coming days.


Erdoğan’s attempts to “find a place” for the 3.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey is the visible face of the plan to create a “corridor into the Mediterranean” along the Bab, Jarablus, Azaz, Afrin and Idlib line from the Jisr Al Shuxur and the GAP region to the Kurd Mountain, and to the Turkmen Mountain from there. The “Erdoğan plan” they attempt to implement in stages is comprised of joining the Idlib-Jarablus pocket with Afrin, settling Syrian refugees in invaded areas and a similar referendum to the one the Turkish state held in Iskenderun after they entered as “security forces” in 1938 to include the province in their borders.


Kurds and the Syrian peoples they act together with fight against this plan, but they have been abandoned despite the great price they paid in the struggle against ISIS. Gang groups with roots in Al Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIS like Al Nusra, Faylaq Al Sham, Ahrar Al Sham, Nureddin Zengi, Sultan Murat, Semerkand Brigades, Sultan Murat Battalion, Fatih Sultan Mehmet Battalion, Turkistan Islamic Party and the Selahaddin Brigade have been brought in from all around the world by the MİT and have received training and equipment in various provinces in Turkey.

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have issued calls to defend the territorial integrity of Syria since the first days of the attacks by these gangs who have been put on display with their newly given “Syrian identity” and the name “Kuvayi Milliye” (“National Revolutionaries”) and who have a long record of rape, torture, executions, abductions, ethnic cleansing, theft, looting and pillaging. The SDF is waging a struggle for patriotism together with the people of Afrin against these MİT-supported groups.

And this epic struggle that has surprised the world is dismantling all the dirty plans of the Erdoğan-run Turkish state.