In his speech at the Parliament yesterday (October 1), President and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made the following remarks about Turkey’s plan for a safe zone in Syria:
“After saving the region from the occupation of the terrorist organization, we will start this project with the international support that we will receive.
“We will push the limits to work together [with the US], but if it is not possible, we will pave our own way. We have, indeed, started paving this way.”
Asked about the statements of Erdoğan, Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov has also made a statement about the the issue in his speech at the Valdai International Discussion Club.
‘US did not want Turkey to cooperate with Syria’
As reported by Sputnik news agency, Lavrov has stated that “the US did not want Turkey to directly cooperate with Syria” and added:
“The US wanted to take this issue under its own control and maintain control on the border by allowing Turkey to have its own military police and observers inside the union to be established by the coalition.
‘Promise of police, observers did not satisfy Turkey”
“However, it did not satisfy Turkey. A country that has nothing to do with the region, with the security problem on the border is trying to impose its own view. I can understand this situation very well”.
A brief history of ‘safe zone’ discussions
- “Safe zone” was put forward again by US President Donald Trump on January 13. Turkey requests that a 32-kilometer deep “safe zone” be established along a 460-kilometer line on Turkey-Syria border.
- In an article published by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in March, geopolitical cartographer Fabrice Balance has indicated that 650 thousand Kurds (76 percent), 180 thousand Sunni Arabs (21 percent), 10 thousand Turkmens (1 percent) and 10 thousand Christians (1 percent) live between Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which will probably fall within the “safe zone”.
- On December 19, 2018, US President Trump announced that the US would withdraw its troops from Syria.
- Around the same days, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that they were planning to launch an operation into the east of Euphrates.
- Posting a tweet on January 13, Trump said that the US “will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds”. Trump also announced that they “will create a 20-mile safe zone….”
- Delegations from the US and Turkey met in early August. After the meetings, the Ministry of National Defense made a statement about the issue and said that “the US and Turkey agreed to establish a Joint Operations Center in Turkey as soon as possible to lead the establishment of the safe zone in coordination with the US”.
- However, two NATO allies have not yet agreed on the depth of the safe zone and who will control it despite making almost 10 joint flights.
- In his speech on September 18, Erdoğan gave the US two-week time. “If no result comes out here, we will put our own action plan into operation”, Erdoğan said.