VOA News: Erdogan Insists on Syria Intervention, in Face of Growing Opposition

VOA News noted that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reiterated his demand for a safe zone in Syria exclusively under Turkish armed forces control; however, the Turkish plans, which already face growing regional opposition, threaten to be complicated by Washington’s partial reversal of a decision to militarily pull out of Syria.


In report to VOA news prepared by the writer Dorian Jones, in which he referred to the Erdogan's threats against the Kurdish presence in north of Syria.

The writer noted that Erdogan said, “It will be unacceptable for us if the safe zone would be shaped in a way that contradicts with our own strategic understanding,” he said. “If there will be a safe zone on my border, it has to be under our control.”

Trump on Friday announced that at least 200 troops would remain in Syria. Analysts say the decision could jeopardize Ankara's plan to intervene in Syria, along with threatening to reopen new tensions with the U.S., a NATO ally. U.S. forces are working closely with the YPG in the war against Islamic State, much to Ankara’s anger.

The writer said Ankara’s possible orientation toward Washington comes as it finds itself increasingly at odds with Tehran and Moscow.

“Turkey is definitely the top loser in Syria,” said political scientist Cengiz Aktar. “Turkey is finding itself increasingly excluded, especially after Sochi.”

With Turkish military forces already occupying a broad swath of Syria, analysts suggest Moscow and Tehran are wary of Turkey expanding its control of Syrian territory.

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed resurrecting the 1998 Adana Agreement between Damascus and Ankara that allows Turkey to carry out cross-border operations, with Syria's permission.

“Russia could indeed back Ankara’s undertaking a cross-border operation in the region,” said Sinan Ulgen, head of the Istanbul-based Edam research group, “providing Ankara gets the assent of the (Damascus) regime, and that has proven to be a stumbling block,” Ulgen said.

Turkey severed diplomatic relations with Syria at the beginning of the civil war, although Erdogan acknowledged “low level” communications at an intelligence level are continuing between the countries.

“Turkey has the new ambition to occupy other people’s land,” said Bouthaina Shaaban, a senior adviser to Syrian President Bashar Assad. “I think we are facing Erdogan, who has dreams of reinvigorating and recreating the Ottoman Empire,” added Shaaban, speaking at a conference in Moscow this month.

Analysts say there are widespread concerns across the Arab world over Turkish forces' holding of Syrian territory, given Turkey’s imperial past.

Ankara has not so far commented on Lavrov’s proposal. Analysis point out that Ankara is likely to be less than enthusiastic, given Moscow has close ties to the YPG and is seeking to coax the militia into a deal with Damascus.

Given Turkey’s increasingly isolated position on Syria, Ulgen said, Ankara will need to tread carefully over its safe zone plans.

“Essentially, Ankara does not want to undermine the productive political dialogue with Moscow and find itself totally isolated, given that the (Syrian) regime is against this operation, Iran is against this operation, Moscow is against this operation. If Ankara goes purely unilaterally, it will find Russia challenging its actions,” Ulgen said.



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