WEST KURDISTAN (SYRIA) – U.S.-Turkey paper over looming crises with ‘joint security mechanism’
Turkey has vowed to destroy the mostly Kurdish groups partnered with the US in eastern Syria.
By Seth J. Frantzman August 13, 2019 14:05 JERUSALEM POST
In late July, Turkey promised a major military operation east of the Euphrates. The area would be returned to its “true owners,” as Turkey’s leaders have claimed for several years. The “cancer” of a “terrorist corridor” would be replaced by a “peace corridor.” Ankara told the Russians and the Americans that its soldiers were coming into Syria.
Then nothing happened. The US scrambled and sent a delegation to Turkey, including diplomats, the anti-ISIS envoy James Jeffrey and military discussants. While the US Secretary of Defense warned Turkey against a unilateral offensive in early August, Washington and Ankara tried to hammer out a compromise.
Ankara has a way with words. “If the safe zone is not established and threats toward our country continue, we will launch the operation in the east of the Euphrates,” foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on July 22.
“We are determined to shatter the terror corridor east of the Euphrates, no matter how the negotiations with the US to establish a safe zone along the Syrian borders concludes,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on July 27. The foreign minister went on to say, on August 12 during Eid al-Adha celebrations, that “Turkey won’t allow the US to stall the process for the operation east of the Euphrates.” So they’re doing it with or without the US. Yet, at the same time, six Americans came to discuss the “coordination center” with Turkey in Ankara at the Defense Ministry.
So which is it: Will Turkey launch an operation anyway, whether or not the Americans do what they are told in Ankara? The US Embassy in Turkey says that as soon as possible, the “rapid implementation” of the safe zone idea will take place. That means administering an area the size of Connecticut that stretches some 400 km. along the border and is 15-30 km. deep. But how hard can that be?
US policy doesn’t usually do anything “rapidly.” America was supposed to “withdraw” from Syria in December 2018, and then it decided to stay – sort of – while partially withdrawing, according to an August 6 report released at the Pentagon. So the US withdraws and doesn’t withdraw. It talks about safe zones and peace corridors, and Turkey says it will definitely launch an operation.
Turkey has vowed to destroy the mostly Kurdish groups partnered with the US in eastern Syria. This includes the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey says are linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). It also involves the rest of the alphabet soup of groups that are all linked in eastern Syria, such as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an umbrella group of security forces, and the political echelons of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Syrian Democratic Council. For Ankara it is all the same – and they must be removed from the border. Ankara says these groups have put their trust in “foreign forces” and that they “will tomorrow find themselves in the grave.”