|Bayramtepe, Tekirdag, Turkey|
If this were a chance encounter, I would have said all 15 of them were just like me. But that couldn't have been further from reality.
None of the men knew each other before coming to Bayramtepe (a little town approximately three hours west of Istanbul) from Syria. They all had different stories regarding how they came to be there. Six of them had jobs in factories. The others did not work. Some were from Golan Heights, others from Damascus, Latakia and Aleppo. Some had been in Istanbul for just a month where others had been there upwards of a year.
What led me to Turkey is a long story about simulating refugee population movements, network analysis techniques and a distinct focus on the human geography of Turkey. Over the next several posts, I will seek to elaborate on the projects, the methods and the experiences that span the Syrian civil war and the role of social network analysis in intelligence analysis.
This first post, however, is about the people I met.
Another man piped up from the corner in Arabic.
"He says he could care less about al-Qaeda, but when Assad is gone, he will once again return to Syria," my translator told me.
The men all laughed.
"What did they say now," I asked.
"That you should deliver the message to President Obama," my translator replied.