East of Euphrates: Safe zone deal is not certain, risks continue

Source:The National Date:12Aug2019

US and Turkey agreed on a safe zone to the East Of Euphrates to seperate Turkey from PKK affiliated  YPG-PYD, but it can hardly be called a deal, missing almost every detail needed to pin down the said safe zone.  On Monday, Turkey’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusolgu renwed threats of a  militayr campaign in Norht East Syria, unless US complies with Turkey’s demands.  The two articles below  take opposite ends of the argument, one claiming a deal is not possible, the latter explaining its potential benefits. As far as this author is concerned, Erdogsn is simply biding time to address the economy  before focusing on Syria again.


The National:

In order to stave off the Turkish intervention, a delegation of US defence officials made a trip to Turkey. Together with their Turkish counterparts, they agreed to set up a safe zone on the Syrian side of the border. They also decided to establish a joint operations centre based in Turkey and committed to a concerted effort to allow Syrian refugees to return to their homeland.

However, the wording of the arrangement was so vague that it can hardly be called an agreement. If anything, it is biding for time while the details get worked out. The fundamental issues that need to be addressed include the depth of the safe zone (the US says it should be no more than 10km but Ankara wants up to four times that), the nature of the joint operations centre, who administers the safe zone and whether the YPG will be disarmed. There also remain serious uncertainties about how exactly Syrian refugees would be repatriated and under what circumstances.


Mr Soner Cagaptay of Washington Institute:  Ensure Turkey’s stability. Renewed talks between Ankara and the PKK could bolster the bilateral interest in minimizing domestic and foreign threats to Turkey. For one, they would jumpstart broader Turkish dialogue on Kurdish issues, providing a much-needed vent for the country’s potent ethnic tensions. They would also disarm a potential Russian proxy—Moscow helped establish the PKK during the Cold War and has maintained ties with the group and its offshoots, which it could conceivably use against Ankara. Talks with the PKK could also keep the YPG from falling into the arms of the Assad regime or Iran and becoming their proxy against Turkey.