Turkey appears to be running out of patience with the United States’ efforts to establish a safe zone on the north-eastern border of Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyb Erdogan said that Turkey might unilaterally set up the planned buffer zone and he did not exclude military options in order to accomplish his goal.
For the past few months, Erdogan has been threatening to resort to military measures to clear the area of fighters led by the mainly Kurdish Syrian People’s Protection Units (YPG) and to establish a safe zone for Syrian refugees.
Turkey and the US have been conducting long-term bilateral talks on how to create a buffer zone, but they have disagreed over its size and composition. Erdogan said while addressing his parliament last week, that Turkey might suddenly cross the border, as all options to solve the problem with our allies have failed to materialise so far. “We are out of patience,” he said according to Avhal News.
Turkey is disappointed with the US for the latter’s support for Kurdish insurgents in the region by training them and providing them with weapons to combat the threat of Isis.
During the recent meeting which took place between the US and Turkey, both sides discussed a safe zone in the eastern Euphrates. According to Ibrahim Kalin, spokesperson for the Turkish presidency, this safe zone must be established as soon as possible whatever the differences of perception between the two nations. He added that he had informed the US of Turkey's demands.
Voice of America News reported that Turkey considers the YPG militia to be terrorists who pose a serious threat to Turkey’s security and they must therefore be removed from border areas. YPG plays a leading role in Syria’s Democratic Forces and controls hundreds of kilometres of Syria’s north-eastern border.
The US, which supports the YPG by providing them with weapons, wishes to protect its military partners and is resisting Turkey’s demands for full control of a long strip of land that would extend 32 kilometres into Syria. “Turkey wants a larger zone than the one we believe makes sense,” James Jeffrey US Special Envoy for Syria said.
The US has proposed a two-tiered zone, with a five-kilometre demilitarised strip bolstered by an additional nine-kilometre area cleared of heavy weapons, stretching in total less than half the distance into Syria that Turkey is seeking.
Ahval News reported that Erdogan had raised another relevant point before parliament when he blamed western countries for not helping Turkey financially to carry the burden of hosting around 3.6 million Syrian refugees. “They impose a serious burden on Turkey’s economy,” he said.
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, said that Syrian refugees were a threat and a burden, and the Turkish government had to resolve the deadlock as soon as possible stating, “We are ready for such an operation, however we want to resolve this issue within the context of our alliance with the US.”
Meanwhile, Erdogan responded to the US position by saying “We will try working together until the end, but if this is not possible, we will pave our own way. I am sure, our mission won’t be easy.”