U.S Embassy denies the existence of any refugee deal between Biden and Erdoğan
The United States Embassy in Ankara denied on Wednesday the existence of any deal related to Afghan refugees between U.S. President Joe Biden and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
In a tweet, the embassy said that it "wishes to state that allegations regarding an 'agreement' or 'deal' between President Biden and President Erdoğan regarding Afghan refugees or migrants are completely without foundation."
The embassy's rebuke came amidst rising concern in Turkey about a new wave of refugees from Afghanistan arriving on their territory following the U.S. withdrawal from the country. The Taliban, the militant group who previously ran Afghanistan before 2001, entered the capital city of Kabul, sparking a mass panic among Afghans who feared the group's brutal implementation of their hardline views of Islam.
According to some reports, anywhere from 500 to 2,000 Afghans are illegally entering Turkey daily from Iran, adding to the more than 100,000 already in the country. Refugees from Afghanistan add to the heavy burden already shouldered by Turkey, which also hosts about 4 million displaced people from Syria.
The U.S. denial also arrives in response to accusations from Turkey's opposition parties, who are campaigning on anti-refugee sentiments in recent weeks. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition People's Republican Party (CHP), directly accused Erdoğan of concealing a secret refugee agreement that he alleges was struck with Biden. In a tweet from August 4, Kılıçdaroğlu warned the U.S. that the opposition would not honour any deals struck with Erdoğan if it comes to power.
"I call on to the U.S: As a member of the alliance that will govern Turkey in the future, we do not accept those deals that you made with Erdoğan," he said on Twitter. "Whatever you have said or relayed to Erdoğan are binding only for him, not for the Republic of Turkey.
For his part, Erdoğan acknowledged that Turkey was faced with an influx of Afghan refugees on Sunday, the same day that the Taliban entered Kabul. He urged the international community to come together to ensure stability in Afghanistan.
Antipathy towards refugees has reached a boiling point in Turkey as the exodus of Afghans to its borders continues. This came to a head last Wednesday when riots broke out in the Ankara suburb of Altındağ after a Turkish teenager was killed in a confrontation with two Syrians. Angry residents stormed Syrian neighbourhoods and assaulted their businesses before the situation was subdued by Turkish law enforcement.