Apr 12 2019

Buffer zone should be within Turkey's Syria border - Michael Rubin

The proposed Turkey-Syria buffer zone should be implemented within the Turkish side of the border, Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official, said on Thursday.

"If Turkey wants a buffer, the U.S. position should be clear: The Turkish army should withdraw from Syria, and evacuate perhaps 10 kilometres from the Syrian border in favour of international observers," Rubin said in an opinion piece for the Washington Examiner website.

Following an abrupt announcement of the withdrawal of the U.S. troops in Syria, the U.S. President Donald Trump on Feb. 14 tweeted that a 20-mile “safe zone” would be created in north-eastern Syria. The following day, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan further asserted Turkey would set up a security zone in Syria in coordination with the United States.

Turkey has national security concerns over the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the organisation that spearheads the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has defeated the Islamic State. The Turkish government say the YPG is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency on Turkish soil.

"A buffer zone to separate the Turkish military and Kurdish forces might be a good idea, but if it is to succeed in its stated purpose rather than simply be cover for renewed Turkish ethnic cleansing, it should be on the Turkish side of the border rather than inside Syria," Rubin said.