Shaky construct: The buffer zone in Northern Syria

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Washington and Ankara agree on the establishment of a security buffer zone in Northern Syria. However, many questions remain open. Syrian Kurds fear a population exchange.

The confrontation is averted – for now: For months, the Turkish government is threatening to send troops across the border in the Eastern part of Northern Syria. After 2016 and 2018, this would be the third Turkish military offensive in Northern Syria, a predominantly Kurdish-populated Region. The United States had, however, threatened with retaliation, should the Turkish government alone.

In Ankara, Turkish and American representatives were able to agree last week, but then halfway: Under the control of the Turkish government, is to be built along the Turkish-Syrian border a “zone of Peace”. To set up this Zone as quickly as possible a use center in the vicinity of the Turkish city of Sanliurfa is to be established. According to data from the Turkish defense Minister Hulusi Akar, the centre was ready for the next days use.

However, the statement is very vague – many of the details remain unclear. Turkey is about to build a buffer zone to the East of the Euphrates, the Kurdish militias of the YPG are forced out to.

How to deal with the YPG? For Washington, the YPG fighters allies – Ankara terrorists

The strip along the Turkish border “will now be cleaned,” – said the Turkish foreign Ministry. For the Turkish government, the YPG, which manages large areas in the North of Syria is the Syrian offshoot of the outlawed terrorist organization PKK, and thus a threat to Turkish security.

Of a friend, the other enemy

For Washington, however, the YPG is an important ally in the fight against the terrorist militia Islamic state (IS). YPG fighters have been equipped in the last years of the United States and formed the American armed forces cooperated in the fight against Isil the Kurdish militias – a success story, because the is is defeated in the North in the civil war-torn Syria as much as possible. In Washington, it is, therefore, concerned that the fight against the YPG by Turkey’s call for a power vacuum, the Islamists could serve as a Door. The agreement of Ankara to overcome this fundamental conflict of interest remains unclear.

Also, there seems to be disagreement about the size of the buffer zone. Defense Minister Akar said on Monday that the Zone should have a depth of 30 to 40 kilometres, which is twice as large as it is, the Americans had provided.

Negotiations without the Kurds

Also for the Kurds in Northern Syria, many questions remain open. “The Details of the agreement are totally unclear,” said Aldar Khalil, a Kurdish politician and member of the Board of “movement for a democratic society” (TEV-DEM). “We also wanted to be a part of the talks, but Turkey had a third party with no interest in a dialogue. A solution among Syrians, you their fate into their own hands, would have been the correct way.” The politician doubts that the Turkish government, in fact, security and peace. “Turkey is trying its borders to expand and to exploit the war in Syria for their own interests”, so the accusation Khalils.

The Kurdish fighters in fight against IS

The Kurds in the North of Syria and the government in Damascus fear that a further military offensive aimed at a population exchange. The memory of Afrin are under the North Syrians still awake, to the last military offensive in January 2018 on the city in the Western part of Northern Syria. Muhammed Bakir, Analyst of the Rojava-centre for strategic studies, recalls the devastating effects of the Operation. “After the military operation it came to kidnappings, Ransom demands, looting; Afrin-Kurds were evicted from their homes and from the families of the jihadists to be replaced.” This population exchange could destroy the stability and security in the Region in the long term, so Bakir.

A “peace zone” for refugees

The of Washington and Ankara agreed “zone of Peace” is to officially allow Syrian refugees in Northern Syria to settle. “A peace corridor is to be created, so that the displaced refugees can return to their homeland,” reads the statement from Washington and Ankara. No country has so many refugees from Syria, such as Turkey. After the outbreak of the economic crisis in the last summer and the associated pressure on the Turkish labour market, the mood of the people tipped but. More and more Turks want now, the 3.6 million Syrian refugees as quickly as possible to deport.

But the Americans have clear interests. You do not want Syria after the withdrawal of U.S. troops once again into Chaos and the IS wins in the Region from strength to strength. Turkish armed forces should be fighting the YPG, then you might have the consequences for Ankara. 14. In January, the US President tweeted: “We will start the overdue withdrawal from Syria. We will destroy the Turkey economically, you should attack the Kurds.”