WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The "safe zone" for refugees in Syria now being advocated by US Secretary of State John Kerry could be used as a springboard for military or guerilla operations to destabilize or topple the country’s government, US experts on the Middle East told Sputnik.
"The current Turkish government has argued for it because it would provide a crucial beachhead for its continued campaign against the government and the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Syria," Middle East historian and analyst Helena Cobban told Sputnik on Friday.
The Obama administration has been reviewing the idea of creating a safe zone in Syria, Kerry told the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday.
The idea of a "safe zone" or a "no-fire zone" inside Syria, for people fleeing the civil war's many battlefields has been around for a long time, and has been particularly strongly pushed by Turkey, Cobban noted.
A quarter century ago, Turkey used such a "safe zone" to weaken and eventually break up the state of Iraq, she recalled.
The United States and its allies have also used the excuse of supposedly humanitarian policies to topple governments in the Middle East over the past five years, Cobban pointed out.
"The lessons of the West's abuse of allegedly ‘humanitarian’ policy aims became starkly clearer after March 2011, when NATO air forces used a claim of ‘humanitarian’ action to enable a campaign of forced regime change in Libya," she observed.
Such a zone was not feasible under current circumstances and, even it could be established, would not be safe for civilians, Antiwar.com news editor Jason Ditz told Sputnik.
"[It is] neither feasible nor reasonable anymore," he said. "The ‘safe zone’ scheme has been proposed for years by Turkey, primarily as a place to herd refugees. But talk of also using it as a staging ground for pro-West rebels made it clear this would never be a particularly safe place for civilians."
"The plan has been talked up again recently, but is likely impossible to even attempt anymore," Ditz said.
He explained that such a zone was always predicated on the United States imposing a no-fly zone over northern Syria, to keep the Syrian Air Force away from the rebels.
"Now that Russia is also involved in airstrikes in the same area, a unilateral US no-fly zone becomes unthinkable," Ditz concluded.
Helena Cobban is a Middle East historian and publisher of Just Books Publishing specializing in issues of Middle East war and peace.