Ching-An Chang on the settlement of Syrian businessmen in Turkey

Co-organiser of the diaspora seminar series Iain reports back on this week’s seminar by Ching-An Chang:

The Settlement of Syrian Businessmen in Turkey

As a result of the civil war in Syria a number of Syrian businessmen have crossed the border into Turkey for a number of reasons including security. Not all are necessarily opposed to the regime although of the businessmen Ching-an has interviewed as a part of his study only one (out of thirty-one interviewees) was from the side of the pro-Syrian regime camp.

The business diaspora in Turkey do not necessarily involve themselves in the same businesses they were/are involved in in Syria. However they all have a desire to return to their homeland upon resolution of the civil war. They have been given Turkish government support for their business activities although local Turks are less welcoming towards what they see as unwelcome competition, prompting a number of businessmen to have their businesses fronted by Turks.

Ching-an also noted that within Syria there is a symbiotic State-Business relationship, which involves the state in activities to limit the size of Syrian businesses. The state’s involvement in the private business sector has also left it with a legacy of mistrust. As a result even outside Syria, the business diaspora evidence a level of mistrust amongst themselves as a result Syrian business networking within Turkey is weak. Finally there is no real desire amongst the community to take a leadership role other than providing aid through humanitarian groups. Ching-an described this as a ‘hiding and waiting’ strategy.

On a personal level I found this fascinating as he’s in at the start of an evolving process, for instance as events evolve in Syria, there is a possibility that this group could become more cohesive and start to take a leadership role amongst the Syrian’s displaced thus far … who knows. Whatever the eventual outcome, this is a fascinating and evolving diaspora.

Please join us on 11th November at 1pm for Fayaz Alibhai on the Shi’a of Edinburgh. The seminar will be in room G14 of the William Robertson Wing – Doorway 4, Old Medical School, University of Edinburgh.


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