Sep 06 2019

Erdoğan gives Trump last chance to stop Turkish incursion into northern Syria, columnist says

There has been no progress in talks between the United States and Turkey over setting up a safe zone along the Turkish border inside Syria and the Turkish government is forced to take matters into own hands, said Hande Fırat, a columnist for the pro-government Hürriyet daily.

Turkey has repeatedly said over the past year that it is planning a military offensive against the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Kurdish group that controls much of northeast Syria. Turkey sees the YPG as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an armed group that has been fighting inside Turkey for more than three decades and is designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. But the United States backed the YPG and together they defeated the Islamic State in Syria.

The United States and Turkey reached a deal last month to set up a joint committee to look into setting up a safe zone in order to avert a Turkish military incursion. But the two sides still disagree on the size of the planned zone and who will control it.

The United States has promised Turkey that YPG forces would dismantle its defensive positions and withdraw from the planned safe zone, but none of the pledges have materialised, Fırat said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday his government would start setting up the safe zone in northern Syria "according to our wishes" by the end of September.

Erdoğan will discuss the situation for the last time with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 21, and either Washington would keep its word or Ankara would take matters into its own hands, Fırat said.

http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/yazarlar/hande-firat/erdoganin-konusmasinin-sifreleri-guvenli-bolge-muzakerelerinde-ne-oldu-41322838