Just hours before the expiration of the 120-hour break that Turkey set for the withdrawal of the People's Protection Units (YPG), the PKK terrorist organization’s affiliate in northern Syria, Russia hosted an important summit.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin met earlier in the week in Sochi. Following more than six hours of talks, the two leaders appeared before the cameras and announced a memorandum of understanding on Syria.
Under the 10-point text signed, Turkey and Russia agreed that they would take up a clear stance in the field against the presence of YPG in Syria. The agreement, which refers to the protection of Turkey’s national security, as well as the political unity and territorial integrity of Syria, stipulates:
The status quo will be maintained in the 32-kilometer area, which Turkey has cleared of terrorists in Syria with Operation Peace Spring.
As of 12 noon, on Oct. 23, 2019, Russian military police and Syrian border guards will clear the area outside the scope of Operation Peace Spring from YPG elements and arms. This will be completed in 150 hours. As of the same hour, joint Turkish-Russian patrols will begin at a depth of 10 kilometers to the west and east of the existing borders of the Operation Peace Spring area.
All YPG elements and their arms will be removed from Manbij and Tel Rifaat.
Joint work will be carried out to facilitate the safe and voluntary return of refugees.
Erdoğan should be congratulated as he has made the U.S. and Russia accept his thesis on the YPG-PKK to a large extent, following his success in the field. The U.S. has launched some reproaches in the face of Turkey’s move. CNN announced the developments with a headline “Putin and Erdoğan just did a deal on Syria. The U.S. is the biggest loser.” The stage reached has pushed Republican Sen. Rand Paul to complain to the U.S. Senate that the region is literally in chaos and it is time to get the hell out of there.
It is undoubtedly not U.S. President Donald Trump who is responsible for both the loss of the prestige of the U.S. and for undermining the confidence of the Turkish state, its most trusted ally in the region. Rather, he did his best to stop the Obama-era policy on Syria. He boldly asked what the U.S. would benefit from having its troops in Syria.
In short, the U.S. had already lost by preferring YPG-PKK terrorists to its NATO-member ally Turkey. So, both Washington’s 13-point agreement with Turkey and Ankara’s memorandum of understanding with Moscow prevented the U.S. from losing more.
We hope Washington will well evaluate this de facto situation and sever its relations with the YPG-PKK and other terrorist elements. Putting it the way Trump said while warning his interlocutors, we hope he will “not be a fool.”