Tensions and war in Syria continue and show no sign of abating. The current was the invasion of Ankara forces on the Syrian border under the pretext of fighting Kurdistan guerrillas, as well as ISIS forces.
For Syrian Kurdish militias, after being betrayed by the United States (US) for deciding to withdraw their troops from Syria, it’s time to ask for help from Damascus. Kurdish militias sign an agreement brokered by Russia with the Syrian government, they allow Damascus to deploy troops along the border with Turkey to prevent Ankara aggression.
A 10-point memorandum of understanding between Turkey and Russia ended the Syrian attack. However, Ankara continues to threaten to resume operations if the terms of the agreement are not respected.
Cash cross-border attacks that were guarded with improvised force by Syria had made Damascus angry. As if by his actions, President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan had insulted Syria’s sovereignty and humiliated President Bashar al-Assad.
However, President Assad said, President Erdogan was an “enemy” because his hostile policy with Syria was opposed by most of his country’s political elite. “But we must ensure that we do not turn Turkey into an enemy and this is the role of friends, like Russia and Iran,” President Assad said in a statement, as quoted by Al Arabiya, Friday (11/01/2019).
He, of course, carefully counted. Turkey is the country with the largest number of Syrian refugees. If President Erdogan closes the border, he will suffer a moral defeat as a result of the growing hatred of his people who are fed up with the endless war.
This hate but longing relationship between the two presidents was also seen when the Turkish and Syrian ambassadors were involved in a dispute in a meeting at the UN Security Council (DK) on Thursday (10/24/2019). In fact, this is the first time they met at the UN Security Council since Turkey launched an attack on Syria.
The Turkish Ambassador, Feridun Sinirlioglu, called the attack a limited counterterrorism operation to combat the long-standing terror threat along the border with Syria. “Also to uphold the integrity and unity of Syria,” Sinirlioglu, quoted by Associated Press on Friday (10/25/2019).
Meanwhile, the Syrian Ambassador, Bashar Ja’afari, said that his government condemned Turkish aggression, and strongly rejected justification efforts under the pretext of defending themselves or fighting terrorism. He accused Turkey of violating international law as well as the UN Charter. “Aggression resulted in hundreds of civilians being victimised and triggering massive displacement.”
A reason that certainly looks mild, if you see the impact of the war on millions of Syrians so far.
Then, what is the relationship with Indonesia? To be sure, both Syria and Turkey have a very good relationship with Jakarta. For Damascus, Jakarta is a strategic partner after China, especially that Indonesia is the country with the largest Muslims in the world.
Damascus is in dire need of moral and material support for conflict resolution in their country that has dragged on too long. Not in the form of confrontation, but rather the win-win dialogue, especially for the safety and security of the Syrian people.
As is known, Turkey became the main destination of Syrian refugees. The Italy-based Migration Policy Center noted at least 2.7 million Syrian refugees entered the country led by President Erdogan. The large number of Syrian refugees in Turkey is due to their close geographical location.
The Turkish government implements an open door policy, which means recognizing the existence of refugees in their territory. President Erdogan even gave refugees the opportunity to gain Turkish citizenship.
The next country that holds many Syrian war victims is Lebanon. Refugees in this region reach 1 million people. The influx of Syrian refugees has made the population of Lebanon rise 25 percent in the country of only 4.4 million people. Syrian refugees are also many in the territory of Jordan (638 thousand inhabitants) and the European region (631 thousand inhabitants).
Humanitarian assistance on behalf of the sympathy of the Indonesian people will certainly ease the burden of the Syrian refugees and also the countries that bear them. What is the trade-off for Indonesia? Of course, all the conveniences that can make Indonesian business costs in these areas more efficient, especially related to oil and gas sector trade.
In this sector, the biggest potential benefit for Indonesia comes from Jordan. As is known, the end of 2018 Jordan’s natural gas production continues to increase. Not to mention that Amman has already signed a natural gas purchase agreement with Israel and Egypt, which has made the country’s gas surplus to rise sharply.
Indonesia, although it is a top 5 LNG exporters, is one of the largest consumers of Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG). Of the 8 million tons of national LPG needs per year, 70 percent must be imported. PT Pertamina (Persero) experiences LPG shortages because the national daily stock is only for 17 days.
Based on data from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) as of May 10, 2019, Pertamina’s LPG stock was 369,058 metric tons (MT). The government wants to increase the national LPG stock up to 20 days, if possible for 24 days. Of course, those will be obtained through imports.
On the other hand, it is common knowledge that the majority of national LPG imports come from the Middle East. This is where the role of Syrian refugee host countries becomes important for Indonesia. Both Jordan and Turkey are known as countries that are actively involved in the global oil and gas trade, LPG is no exception.
It is a fact that in Indonesia LPG subsidies continue to increase every year. In the 2019 State Budget (APBN) it reaches more than IDR 69 trillion. The amount of LPG subsidies occupies the biggest energy ranking above the diesel fuel and electricity subsidies.
Is Indonesia able and willing to play beautifully mediating the conflict between Turkey and Syria that might be able to influence the low value of energy imports, one of which is LPG? Inevitably, the public also hopes that will happen.