GIGA Insights

After the Earthquake: Background to the Political Situation in Syria and Turkey

The GIGA’s Middle East researchers shed light on the political situation in Syria and Turkey after the massive earthquake of 6 February.

  • The current political situation in Syria and Turkey is hindering the provision of international aid in the wake of the devastating earthquake that hit the region on 6 February. In talks with taz,, and Deutsche Welle, Dr. André Bank, a Middle East researcher at the GIGA, comments on the challenging situation in Syria. He provides background information on military and political control and draws parallels to the Syrian regime’s previous handling of comparable crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, the regime strategically used deliveries of vaccines and medical supplies to support primarily its own clientele. Similarly, GIGA researcher Dastan Jasim analyses the history of anti-Kurdish discrimination in Turkey following natural disasters, which have been instrumentalised by the government in Ankara for political purposes in the past – especially against this ethnic group. The reaction to the 6 February earthquake seems to confirm this pattern, Jasim notes.

    This is all why, shortly after the earthquake hit, Bank warned against routing European aid shipments through President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which would be akin to legitimising him. Instead, Bank advocates opening more border crossings with Turkey so that aid convoys can pass through to Syria’s hardest-hit north-west region around Idlib. This is a demand also being made by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock to enable faster aid provision on the ground.

    Team GIGA expresses its solidarity with the victims of the earthquake. If you can and want to support the many people in need, you can find further information on the Hamburg initiative “Der Hafen Hilft” here (in German).


    TVP World | Interview | 20/02/2023

    Are US Sanctions against Syria stalling Aid after earthquake?

    A few days after the quake the US Treasury Department announced sanctions imposed on Syria for 'all transactions related to earthquake relief efforts'. Will this be enough to allow unrestricted humanitarian access to Syria? Have sanctions been an obstacle to the delivery of aid? GIGA researcher Houssein Al Malla answers these questions in this TVP World interview.  

    Research Project | 01/03/2021 - 31/08/2022

    COVID-19 and the Dynamics of (Post-)War Violence: Lessons from Colombia and Syria

    What are the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the dynamics of violence during and after civil wars? The project analyses the pandemic-related reconfiguration of social and political orders in a comparative study of Syria and Colombia at subnational levels. In this way, it will provide new knowledge on violence dynamics in two of the most complex conflicts today and be able to suggest crucial lessons for similar (post-)war contexts in other parts of the world.
    Volkswagen Foundation, 2021-2022


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