Turkey needs comprehensive, realistic Syria policy  - analyst

Unless Turkey works out a comprehensive and realistic Syria policy, it may find itself further bogged down in the imbroglio of Syria, where Russia, the United States and Iran remain heavily invested, wrote former Turkish Foreign Minister Yaşar Yakış in his column on Sunday for the Arab News.

Turkey has made the right move by not insisting on the demand of setting up a 440-kilometer-long and 30-kilometer-wide safe zone along the Syrian border to be controlled exclusively by the Turkish army and agreeing instead to a shorter, narrower corridor patrolled jointly by Russian troops, Yakış wrote.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin last month agreed to push back the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters from said zone along the Turkey-Syria border.

The YPG forms the bulk of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which have spearheaded the U.S.-led war on ISIS in the region. 

However, with the agreement, Turkey may have pushed the Kurdish fighters to an area where they can better flourish under joint Russian-U.S. protection and with oil money, Yakış said.

The United States has confirmed that U.S. troops will remain in the eastern Syria "to secure the oil fields" against the Islamic State. U.S. Defence Secretary Mark Esper has said the military’s oil field mission also will ensure income for Kurdish forces relied upon by Washington to continue guarding ISIS prisoners and helping American forces combat remnants of the jihadist group.

Underlining that is not clear whether Washington has  suspended the supply of arms, equipment and ammunition to the SDF, Yakış said if negotiations between the sides conclude to Washington’s satisfaction, "the supply of arms and ammunition to Kurds is likely to continue as before.’’

Meanwhile, Turkey’s military operation in northeast Syria has also allowed the Syrian government to extend its control to areas close to the Turkish border, Yakış said, with Damascus proposed the integration of YPG fighters into the Syrian army and members of the Kurdish internal security services, known as Asayish, into local police forces. 

The role of Iran is another factor, which needs to be taken into consideration in Syria, Yakış wrote.

With its knowledge of the terrain, strong Russian military presence and Syrian government’s legitimate sovereign rights over its own territory, Tehran ma prevail in the longer run over Washington’s patchy Syria policy, the analyst said.