OPEC, allies agree to deepen oil output cuts    Iran ballistic activities do not conform with U.N. resolution: France    Iraqi officials raise death toll to 25 protesters killed    Lebanon's journalists suffer abuse, threats covering unrest    Riyadh's public transport project to be ready mid-2020    Kenya police officers among eight killed in bus attack    Tottenham must fix leaky defence and stop cheap goals: Mourinho    White House will not participate in Trump impeachment hearing    Live score: AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool (English Premier League)    Gold drops 1% after robust U.S. jobs data    Euro steady; U.S. dollar set for worst week since mid-Oct.    Egypt Zamalek's new coach eyes winning start in Champions League against 1º de Agosto    Egypt's Cabinet denies reports on increasing Jan. train fares    Gareth Bale set to miss Madrid's game against Espanyol    WHO decries "collective failure" as measles kills 140,000    Egypt, Italy foreign ministers discuss bilateral ties, regional issues    Egypt's exports of jewelry, precious stones hit $1.6 bln in 10 months: ECBM    The monster that created Michelangelo's sins    First flight attendant with Down syndrome leads crew on International Day of Disabled Persons    Egypt's PM meets Al-Futtaim group CEO, asserts gov't support for real investments    Things to do to receive 2020 feeling better    Mohamed Salah, Zamalek's Hamed represent Egypt in shortlists for CAF awards    Rate of HIV infections in Egypt around 0.02% – minister    Adam Sandler threatens to make ‘so bad' movie if he doesn't win Oscar    Lebanese c.bank instructs banks to cap interest rates on deposits    Egypt's Tahrir Square among top Reuters photos of a decade    Ahly labour to Egypt Cup win over second-division Beni Suef    Gearing up for the World Youth Forum    In charge of the news    Michelangelo and company    
Don't miss Miami Theatre's new theatrical production Rasayal Ala'oshaq    Shaaban Abdel Rahim, passed away aged 62 years    Tencent bullish on future games industry growth in Middle East    Lebanese parliament committee to approve 2020 budget by year-end: Head    Egypt names 16 new governors ahead of anticipated Cabinet reshuffle    Egypt's MPs back potential return of information minister post in expected reshuffle    Court sentences six to death, 41 to lifetime imprisonment violence related case    Trump says he would release Mideast peace plan after Israeli elections    ACWA Power compares 3 bids to supply production units for Luxor power station    What do you know about gold alloying?    NBE announces EGP 2.5m prizes for handball youth teams for their world achievements    Jennifer Lopez evokes Egyptian outrage post her North Coast performance    Al-Sisi honours Egypt's scholars on Science Day    IS claims responsibility for suicide bombing killing 63 in Afghan wedding    Political parties gear up for parliamentary, senate, local elections    Unprecedented Glory: Egypt win Men's U-19 World Handball Championship    12th National Egyptian Theatre Festival fuel up public theatre art scene    Ministry of Environment has a plan for "black clouds season"    

Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.

Erdogan's Syria fail
Published in Ahram Online on 05 - 11 - 2019

The contours of the situation in northeast Syria are growing clearer by the day in tandem with the phased withdrawal of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in accordance with the Russian-Turkish agreement reached at Sochi after a six-hour negotiating marathon. We can now see who is in control over what.
The strip from Qamishli to Ein Diwar is under US influence despite Washington's decision to withdraw its forces (although it appears that it is changing its mind again). This development resulted from talks between Kurdish fighters and US military personnel following concerns raised by Washington that oil fields in eastern Syria could fall into the Islamic State (IS) group's hands again. On Sunday, 3 November, the Syrian Human Rights Observatory reported that the US, in the framework of the international coalition, was hastily building three military bases in the area.
The stretches from Qamishli to Ras Al-Ain and from Tel Abyad to Ain Al-Arab (Kobane) are controlled by the Russians. Along that corridor the east of the Euphrates, Russian and Turkish forces began their first joint patrol, on 1 November, in the framework of efforts to create a “safe zone”.
The area from Ras Al-Ain to Tel Abyad is nominally under Turkish influence in alliance with its army of militias. A growing presence of Syrian regime forces is to be found in and around Qamishli while the areas between the Abu Rasein-Tel Tamer and Tel Tamer-Ras Al-Ain axes as well as the area between Ain Eisa and Tel Abyad are experiencing ongoing skirmishes between SDF and Turkish-backed forces.
On the ground in Syria, away from the prevailing triumphalism in all quarters of the Erdogan regime and press in Turkey, the US and the Russia pretty much monopolise control over the border region. As the Russian-Turkish patrol set off to the west of Qamishli, a US patrol began rounds to the east of the city that the Syrian Kurds had declared the capital of the autonomous region east of the Euphrates in 2014.
SDF Commander Mazloum Abdi believes that, ultimately, Syria's problems can only be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue. In interview with the Italian daily Repubblica (2 November), General Abdi admits that he has little trust in the Syrian government and the Russians but that, “we can only solve Syria's problems through politics. We must negotiate.” Talks would not include Turkey, naturally. Asked what he thought of Erdogan's latest demand for the US to arrest him and deport him to Turkey, the SDF leader said: “You cannot expect anything different from a person who does not hide from the world his project to massacre our people, and threatens whoever does not help him carry out his project.”
Meanwhile, after intensive pressures from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, including blackmail using the refugee card, the UN has decided to consider the “Turkish plan” to transfer Syrian refugees in Turkey to a “safe zone” in Syria. At the same time, Secretary General Antonio Guterres, during his visit to Turkey last week, stressed the need for Ankara to respect “the basic principles relating to the voluntary, safe and dignified return of refugees”. Erdogan has repeatedly vowed that the return of Syrian refugees would be voluntary and involve no coercion whatsoever. In late October, both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch reported that the Turkish government had “forcefully deported” many Syrian refugees to Syria in the months preceding the Turkish invasion of northern Syria.
That the UN has agreed to consider the controversial Turkish plan does not necessarily mean it will be implemented, observers say. A senior US State Department official has described Erdogan's plan as “probably the craziest idea I've ever heard”. Erdogan envisions resettling a million— and perhaps as many as two million — refugees in northeast Syria, hundreds of miles from their original homes. It is a project designed to engineer a dramatic demographic shift that would wreak massive displacements, renewed violence and an incalculable humanitarian toll. The good news for the Syrian people living in that area is that the plan is contingent on Turkey's ability to seize and occupy the large swathe of land that Erdogan had set his sights on in northeast Syria. This has not happened yet and is unlikely to happen at all now that Ankara has announced the end of its “Peace Spring” operation which Turkish officials claim achieved its goals. It therefore seems that Erdogan will have to limit his territorial/population transfer ambitions at least for the time being.
To the people of northern Syria, even a limited Turkish presence on their land is unacceptable. Tens of thousands marched in Qamishli last weekend to protest the “Turkish occupation”. Simultaneously, more than 5,000 Kurds and other political activists in Paris staged a march in solidarity last weekend, Saturday 2 November, calling on European countries to impose concrete economic sanctions against Ankara to compel it to withdraw from Syria. Protesters carried signs saying, “You let Turkey massacre the Kurds. Is this how you thank them for defeating ISIS?” Another sign was more succinct: “Erdogan=IS”.
Agit Polat, spokesman for the Kurdish Democratic Council in France (CDK-F), warned that the Turks “do not respect their agreements (with the Russians and Americans) and continue to invade and expand their presence in northern Syria”. His organisation has voiced a proposal that appears to be gaining support abroad: the creation of “an international interposition force to maintain border security”. He said that such a force could be European, international or sponsored by the UN. What was essential was to “deploy this force on the border at all costs because we know very well that Turkey will not limit itself to a few dozen kilometres”.
As anti-Turkish protests continued over the weekend, a car bomb was detonated in the Turkish controlled border town of Tel Abyad on Sunday, 3 November. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 14 people — pro-Turkish fighters and civilians — were killed in the explosion. The Turkish Defense Ministry released a statement blaming the PKK.
The situation for Turkey in the northern Syria quagmire is growing more complicated by the hour. If Erdogan is contemplating a renewed offensive, it will only yield further disaster.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 7 November, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

Clic here to read the story from its source.