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Saturday, 02 July 2022
Turkey’s “Buffer Zone” in Northern Syria
Jwan Dibo

Turkey is preparing to launch a new aggression against the Kurds in northern Syria, with the aim of expanding the so-called Turkish "buffer or safe zone" inside Syria.

Realistically speaking, Turkey began building the so-called “buffer zone” in conjunction with its repeated invasions of Syrian lands, which began in 2016 and have not stopped so far. Especially when it occupied the Kurdish city of Afrin in March 2018, and the cities of Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad in October 2019.

The Turkish proposal to create a “buffer zone” in northern Syria dates back to 2014. Erdogan's Turkey has justified this proposal as a vital necessity to protect Turkish national security, considering that the Kurds' attempts to emancipate go against Turkish national security.

On the one hand, the government of Justice and Development Party (AKP) will undermine what remains of Kurdish hopes of enjoying rights within the hoped-for new Syria. On the other hand, Erdogan will try to get rid of the burden of Syrian refugees inside Turkey. This issue has become a cause for discontent among Turkish voters, especially as the country will witness tumultuous general parliamentary elections next year.

In addition, the deportation and housing of Syrian refugees in the “buffer zone”, which will be under direct Turkish occupation, will lead to massive demographic changes to the detriment of the Syrian Kurds.

Turkey has strongly re-proposed the issue of the “buffer zone” in northern Syria in conjunction with the dramatic events taking place in Europe as a result of the Ukrainian crisis. The Ukrainian crisis, which Turkey is trying to benefit from by bargaining with the two parties of the conflict, namely Russia and the United States, by passing its own agendas on more than one issue and in more than one country.

The issue of Finland and Sweden joining NATO is one of the issues that Turkey is trying to bargain on with Washington and Moscow alike. Turkey has asked Sweden and Finland not to harbour and support “terrorists”, in reference to members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

In order for Turkey to agree to Sweden and Finland to join NATO, it indirectly asked Washington to approve its poisonous project regarding the completion of the “buffer zone” in north and north-eastern Syria.

Ankara also sent a signal to Moscow that it is ready not to accept Stockholm and Helsinki membership in NATO, provided that Moscow does not confront its intention to carry out the construction of the “buffer zone” in northern Syria.

The Turkish escalation against the Kurds in Syria coincides with Operation Claw Lock, which Turkey launched against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in Iraqi Kurdistan on April 20.

The Turkish escalation against the Kurds is far beyond the alleged Kurdish danger and is related to Erdogan's sweeping desire to restore control over the northern regions of Syria and Iraq as lands belonging to the defunct Ottoman Empire. This is related to Turkey's unique conviction that the validity of the 1923 Lausanne Treaty, which ended the Turkish Ottoman Empire, will expire within the next year, which will allow Turkey to re-annex many lands and countries according to the Turkish populist conviction.

The options for the Kurds in Syria are very limited, especially as their political and military forces are disjointed. Therefore, their only hope is that Washington and Moscow will not allow Ankara to launch a new aggression against them. But this hope is very slim, because international relations are governed only by the principle of interests. Washington and Moscow's interests with Ankara are more important than the Kurds, who are considered the weakest, least cunning and experienced players in the political game in Syria.

It seems that Erdogan will go ahead with his plan to carry out a new attack against the Kurds, because such a step, at this particular time, is considered crucial for Erdogan and his rule. Also, the geopolitical climate now is more favourable for Erdogan to increase his demands from the West and Moscow alike.

BY: Jwan Dibo