Negotiations are underway between Turkey and the United States regarding the proposed safe zone in northern Syria. Here's why we have seen increased activity on this issue: Last month, Russia delivered the initial shipment of the S-400 air defense system to Turkey, fueling tensions between Washington and Ankara. Initial contact between the two NATO allies occurred between the Turkish defense minister and the U.S. secretary of defense, who agreed that a U.S. delegation would visit Turkey immediately to hold talks on the safe zone. Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had raised another issue with his counterpart in the same phone call, expressing his country's intention to launch a new military incursion into northern Syria. The deployment of Turkish troops to Turkey's southern border led U.S. officials to take Akar's point seriously. James Jeffrey, U.S. President Donald Trump's special representative for Syria, arrived in the Turkish capital several days later, yet the talks proved inconclusive when the Americans repackaged the terrorist organization PKK/People's Protection Units' (YPG) demands as their own.
Turkey wants to establish a 30-kilometer safe zone with zero terrorist presence in order to secure its borders. It also expects to control this area. Jeffrey, in turn, argued that the safe zone's depth must range between five and 15 kilometers. He added that the United States would be in charge of the area, with Turkish and American troops conducting joint patrol missions.
The Turks rejected Jeffrey's proposals for two reasons. The first problem related to the proposed safe zone's depth. PKK/YPG militants had originally called for a 5-kilometer safe zone, and the American representative cast doubt on his reliability by making the exact same offer. Turkey was also unhappy with the idea of joint patrols. The United States had offered to conduct joint patrol missions in Manbij, which the Turks accepted, without actually taking any concrete steps. The joint patrol was actually limited to Manbij's borders. Upon his return to the United States, Jeffrey said that Washington was going to keep supporting PKK/YPG militants, who served as proxies in the war against Daesh, as Turkey had turned down the American offer. The Turkish Ministry of Defense proceeded to announce that a U.S. military delegation was due to visit Ankara to negotiate the safe zone.
Hami Aksoy, the Foreign Ministry's spokesman, added that Turkey would establish the safe zone unilaterally if it failed to reach an agreement with the United States.
Sources maintain that the upcoming meeting between the Turkish and U.S. military is extremely important. No progress was made in talks with Jeffrey, who, the Turks say, was out of his depth and not up-to-date on key issues. Turkey believes that it can reach a final decision, together with the United States, to establish a safe zone in Northern Syria after military-to-military talks.
What will happen if talks with the U.S. military, which is expected to make a new offer to the Turks, lead nowhere?
The Turkish National Security Council issued a written statement last week, designating the proposed safe zone in Northern Syria as a "peace corridor." When asked why Turkey wanted to rename the area, sources familiar with Turkey-U.S. negotiations said, "We will create a safe zone together with the United States."
Otherwise, they said, Turkey would take unilateral steps to establish a peace corridor. Thus the significance of the council's statement on the peace corridor.
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