Ankara’s “safe zone” in Syria

3 m.   |  2019-10-23

T he silent consent of the international community towards Turkey’s military action against the Kurds in Syria was quite expected. Against the backdrop of Turkish-American negotiations failure over the issue of creating a safe zone in Syria and after Trump’s announcement on withdrawing US troops from Syria, there was hardly any doubt that both sides came to consensus on the Kurdish issue in Syria. Different expertise circles actively used the approach, that Washington couldn’t leave the Kurdish issue in Syria and that it was a trap for Erdogan. Such kind of expertise assessments are related to the tension in Turkish-American relations. However, the further developments of the situation showed quite the opposite. 

Shortly after that, president Trump announced about imposing American sanctions against Turkey in response to Erdogan’s military operation in Syria [1].

The Turkish Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Defense are involved in sanctions’ list [2]. According to different sources, the American troops were withdrawn from Manjib and Kobani areas [3], later followed by Syrian Government force’s promotion in these areas. Soon, the areas completely passed under the control of the Syrian governmental forces, with the Russian military police officers patrolling in the suburbs [4]. The Kurds leaving in the Syrian areas had a little choice but to partner with Assad, and they made a compromise with him for avoiding Erdogan’s threat of ethnic cleansing and displacement [5].

As a result of Erdogan-Pence meeting in Turkey, on October 17, the parties could reach an agreement on putting an end to Ankara’s military action in Syria [6],[7],[8]. President Trump described this agreement as “A great day for civilization” [9].

The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump’s National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, and the United States Special Representative for Syria J. Jeffrey were also involved in the American Delegation.

According to the agreement reached, Turkey would pause its military operations, giving the Kurds 120 hours to leave the so-called “safe zone” [10]. Pence states that the Kurdish forces will be withdrawn 30-km from the south of Turkey-Syria border.  

Washington is ready to cancel the sanctions against Turkey in response to Ankara’s decision to end up military operations. President Trump announced that “Erdogan did a right thing, and Turkey sanctions are no longer necessary” [11].

Erdogan’s safe zone is a reality now. Currently the safe zone is under Ankara’s sole control, to which Washington has been against until recently.