Wednesday, August 14, 2019

"A Safe Zone For Syrian Refugees-- So Near, yet, So Very Far"

Following up on a few  previous posts that will be relinked throughout the oped below

Oped: A safe zone for Syrian refugees — so near, yet so very far:  Indian Punchline

"To be sure, Ankara has reason to be wary of the agreement reached on Wednesday to establish a joint operation centre in Turkey to coordinate and manage a planned safe zone in northeast Syria. The US readout on the agreement contained 3 points: a) “the rapid implementation of initial measures to address Turkey’s security concerns”; b) “to stand-up a joint operations center in Turkey as soon as possible in order to coordinate and manage the establishment of the safe zone together”; and, c) “that the safe zone shall become a peace corridor, and every effort shall be made so that displaced Syrians can return to their country.”

The readout is delightfully vague; no timeline for the buffer zone’s implementation or its geographical scope has been given. What spurred Washington into action was an explicit threat by Erdogan last Sunday to invade Kurdish-run north-eastern Syria within the next fortnight, creating a conundrum for Washington. The lack of clarity in Wednesday’s agreement on the specifics— the route that such a corridor might take, how deep it would extend into Syria and so on — suggests that the US is merely buying time."

Delightfully vague ! Not that the 5 eyes media, alt or msm, has restrained it's spin.
"The US cannot afford to commit to a plan that could hurt its alliance with the region’s Kurds who are of course the only allies Pentagon is left with on the Syrian chessboard. Ankara claims it would use the newly established safe zone to return Syrian refugees inside its borders (who are, in fact, already being rounded up in recent weeks to be returned to Syria.)

The Turkish public opinion increasingly resent the 4-million strong Syrian refugees’ presence as a burden on the economy and social services. On the other hand, the Syrian Kurds allege that Turkey is actually working on a master plan to demographically reshape the Kurdish-dominated border regions as an Arab stronghold. The truth lies somewhere in between.

There is another security dimension since the Kurdish forces are guarding two large detention camps and two prisons, which (allegedly) hold more than 130,000 suspected ISIS members or supporters and if a conflict erupts between the Turkish and Kurdish forces, the terrorists may regroup and regenerate"
The US and others are already claimed ISIS is regrouping so the Kurds must be doing a very poor job guarding their detainees (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)       

Fundamentally, Turkey considers the Syrian Kurds, who are US’ allies, as terrorists who are ideologically and militarily affiliated to the Kurdish separatist group PKK operating in Turkey and unless this contradiction is reconciled, which is easier said than done, a convergence between Washington and Ankara on the safe zone will remain problematic. 

Then, there are quite a few thorny issues, too. What about the heavy weapons supplied by the US to Syrian Kurds,
which Washington had pledged to retrieve once the war against ISIS got over? Again, the stated US intention was to finish the war against ISIS and quit Syria, but it has switched policy — and now it has unfinished business against Iran.
All the same, it is difficult for Turkey to invade northern Syria to and confront the Syrian Kurds, ignoring the US warnings against any such move. Nor is the US in a mood to dump the Syrian Kurds who are its only trump cards to pressure the Syrian government to make concessions in any future settlement. Indeed, the regions along the Euphrates under the US/Kurdish control also happen to be rich in oil deposits and water resources.
 The US is going to use the Kurds to pressure and weaken the Assad government. As I've stated for years. Exactly like Iraq? Geez, how long has that been reported here? Not exactly hard to figure out. Washington wants to create a loose federation to retain influence while Turkey wants Syria to remain a unified state?!   Long term readers here should recall that's been my stance for quite some time now? And it's been a lonely stance save for Nomadiceveryman.

Despite the US threat to take action against Turkey if it invaded the Kurdish regions of northern Syria, Turkey estimates that Trump cannot afford a shooting war with it in Syria. Erdogan is likely trying to create a split between Trump on one side and Pentagon and the State Department on the other side. Erdogan factors in that the US cannot turn against Turkey, given the base facilities it provides for NATO in Incirlik, where the US has stockpiled dozens of nuclear missiles.

Without doubt, Russia and Damascus as well as Iran are watching how the US-Turkish tango plays out. Clearly, none of these protagonists is enthusiastic about the idea of safe zones — although Turks are no longer marketing the safe zones as part of a broader effort to topple Assad, a policy aim they have largely abandoned, but as a way to stem the refugee flow to the West. And all three — Moscow, Damascus and Tehran —would rather see the US exit Syria altogether. Moscow and Tehran are also supportive of Damascus’ intention to regain control over the entire territory of Syria.

Conceivably, any further deterioration in US-Turkey relations will be keenly watched in Moscow and Tehran. The planned trilateral summit of Turkey, Russia and Iran in Ankara, originally slated for August, becomes an occasion to hear the Turkish narrative on what lies ahead. Meanwhile, the geopolitical backdrop is simply stunning.
A commentary by the Voice of America on Tuesday was titled Can Turkey Be a Trusted NATO Partner? It says:

“Erdogan’s warming ties with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and his purchase of an advanced Russian air-defense system — as well as his pursuit of strategies in Syria that conflict with those of other NATO partners and his support for Islamist causes— are straining Turkey’s ties with the West to the point of rupture… Pentagon officials also have expressed frustration with signs of an Erdogan rapprochement with Iran.”
“There’s no formal mechanism for a NATO member to be expelled from the defense organization. Nonetheless, in Washington and European capitals, talk is mounting among policy-makers and influential foreign-policy analysts about whether Turkey has any future in NATO and whether the time is coming for it to leave or for its membership to be suspended.”


  1. I should add "5 Eyes Media" to my lexicon of epithets. It describes them so well. It just struck me as very peculiar, even with no context how everyone ganged up on Turkey after the Syrian regime change attempt began. Israel Shamir even replaced an article praising the AKP from 2012 with yet another "evil Erdogan" piece. I believe that even among European progressives, there are residual anti-Turkish sentiments from the past.

    1. Hi Martin:

      The 5 eyes is a good descriptor for the media or you can also say 5/6 eyes (which includes Israel)

      Early on in the destabilization of Syria I, without better understanding, or context, blamed Turkey as well.

      BUT as more information came to eyes opened to the wider picture. The regional issue.

      Sadly most 5 eyes alt and msm has stayed largely silent
      Though one can now find more information alluding to the regional remake

      PS: It was this very issue that caused my falling out, loss of faith, with the so called alt media.
      Which doesn't offer any real, substantive alternative to the msm perception managing discourse.

      "I believe that even among European progressives, there are residual anti-Turkish sentiments from the past."

      Yah, I'd agree with that- Actually one can see the past playing out in the present with the attempt to finally destroy Turkey- the last remnant of the Ottamans- Using the Saudis again, of course.