Middle East
Desire to Have a Safe Zone in North of Syria, May be a Wishful Thinking!
Middle East, News, Opinion, Syria, Turkey 16 August 2019

Details of the agreement on “Safe Zone” in north of Syria

It is almost 2 weeks that Erdogan officially announced there will be soon a Turkish operation in east of Euphrates against Kurds and added Turkey will not wait for USA anymore to make a “Safe Zone” in north of Syria.
These words of Erdogan were after US and Turkey experience failed for Manbij area entitled “Manbij Roadmap”. In Roadmap of Manbij, Kurdish forces were supposed to leave Manbij area and US. and Turkey forming joint patrols securing the area; but Kurds did not leave and after a few useless patrols, the plan left alone…
Turkey having bitter experiences of working with United States. in Manbij plan, this time serious and determined announced to attack east of Euphrates and it made Americans to negotiate with Turks to stop them.
 
Thus, a team of US officials visited Turkey this week to negotiate with Turks and in latest statements by Turkish officials, it was announced American and Turkish stances regarding Kurds of north of Syria are getting closer to each other and a “joint operation room” has been formed to monitor situation of the area.
Nevertheless, after a few days of these announcements, controversial news are heard from US-Turkey negotiation.
 
Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkish FM, in a joint press meeting with Sierra Leone FM in Ankara stated that “Ankara will not tolerate any delay from the United States over setting up a safe zone in northern Syria and the tactics USA is utilizing right now are what they used in the issue of Manbij and they did not fulfill their promises.”
 
This new statement by Turkish FM particularly shows Turkish official stance regarding the “Safe Zone” in north of Syria which shows the negotiation between USA and Turkey was not that instructive or at least not for Turkey.
 
He emphasized that the initial agreement between Ankara and Washington is to establish a Safe Zone but this is only a beginning and “many issues and details” need to be clarified. He added that Trump promised to have a Safe Zone with depth of 32 km with several watch posts and Turkish drones have already started to surveillance flights.
 
On the other hand, Pentagon released a statement regarding the Safe Zone and said that this agreement will be implemented in several stages and Lieutenant General Stephen Twitty, deputy commander of the US European Command (EUCOM) will be the head of a military group to monitor the joint operation room between USA and Turkey will travel to Şanlıurfa, south of Turkey.
 
Although the details of the agreement on “Safe Zone” in north of Syria have not yet released officially but according to current information from unofficial and official sources, it can be concluded that:
– Turkey wants a Safe Zone covering all its border with Syria in east of Euphrates with the depth of 32 km but this request is not acceptable by SDF and USA. United states has proposed Safe Zone between Tell Abiad and Raas Al Ayn with length of 100 km and depth of 15 km.
– Turkish surveillance planes can fly over Safe Zoneand survey the area.
– Safe Zone is under control of Turkey-US coalition and heavy ammo will retreat to 20 km away from the zone.
– Turkey will erect 10 watch post and the number can increase in future.
– American and Turkish forces will patrol jointly, however Turkish forces cannot enter the towns inside the Safe Zone.

 

Considering that the negotiation between USA and Turkey regarding the Safe Zone in north of Syria is still continuing, the above details have not yet been finalized and the outcome might be different. In any case, due to unsuccessful previous experience of Turkey-USA about Manbij and differences between them, we should wait and see how will Safe Zone issue in north of Syria be implemented and if Turkey achieve its goals in this matter or this becomes a new source of troubles in east of Euphrates.

 

*Map shows Turkey’s offered Safe Zone released by Anadolu News Agency.

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