21:19 GMT +323 March 2017
    Syrian rebels battled government troops near a landmark 12th century mosque in the northern city of Aleppo.

    How Trump's Safe Zones May Help Syrian Armed Rebels to Catch a Second Wind

    © AP Photo/ Hussein Malla
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    US President Donald Trump's idea to build safe zones in Syria has provoked mixed emotions in Ankara. Speaking to Sputnik, Turkish security analyst Dr. Nihat Ali Ozcan suggested that the introduction of safe zones in Syria would tip the balance in favor of the Syrian armed opposition.

    Donald Trump's statement regarding the introduction of safe zones in Syria has sparked concerns among Turkish security experts.

    "I'll absolutely do safe zones in Syria for the people," Trump told ABC News Wednesday, "I think that Europe has made a tremendous mistake by allowing these millions of people to go into Germany and various other countries."

    Although the Turkish leadership has long been a vocal proponent of establishing safe zones in Syria, Trump's remarks have prompted mixed feelings in Ankara.

    "What is important is what kind of results of this work would have and what kind of information and guidance will come out from US institutions," Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Huseyin Muftuoglu told a press conference commenting on Trump's initiative.

    Speaking to Sputnik Turkiye, Turkish retired Brigadier General Haldun Solmazturk drew attention to the fact that recently the situation on the ground in Syria has drastically changed.

    "I believe that in the current stage of the Syrian peace process, [the concept] of 'safe zones' Trump was talking about differs fundamentally from [the project] the Turkish President has been proposing from the beginning of the Syrian crisis," Solmazturk told Sputnik.

    The expert suggested that the new US administration plans to build safe zones in the areas currently controlled by the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) led by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its military wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG).

    Kurdish YPG Fighters (File)
    Kurdish YPG Fighters (File)

    "Given the fact that in these very areas [the US] creates its military bases, I suppose, that the 'no-fly' regime will be introduced solely over these territories," he assumed.

    It was earlier reported that the US has allegedly created a military base near the city of al-Hasakah in northeastern Syria. A source in the SDF, who asked to remain anonymous, told Sputnik Turkiye that a large US military base has been built in the village of Til Beder, located 35 km from the town of al-Hasakah.

    For its part, representative for foreign affairs of the Syrian Democratic Forces (DSS) Abdulaziz Yunus also confirmed the presence of the US military in many parts of the unrecognized autonomous region of Rojava in northern Syria.

    "It's well known that the US military is present in many parts of the district of Rojava. They are also located in the village of Til Beder," Yunus told Sputnik.

    The retired Brigadier General expressed concerns over the possibility of Trump's building safe zones across the Syrian Arab Republic with the SDF's assistance.

    It is no secret that Ankara strongly opposes the creation of any independent Kurdish entities near Turkey's southern borders and regards bolstering US-Kurdish ties as a challenge to its national security.

    If Trump creates no-fly zones in the territories controlled by the Kurdish military it would significantly complicate Ankara's struggle against the PYD and YPG, whom the Turkish leadership considers affiliates of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), designated as a terrorist organization in Turkey.

    Solmazturk argues that the project of creating the so-called "safe" or "no-fly" zones in Syria is completely unrealizable under the present circumstances.

    "The situation in the Arab Republic has seriously changed. Under the present circumstances it is premature to talk about the creation of any 'safe' or 'no-fly' zones in Syria before a comprehensive political solution to the Syrian conflict is found," he said.

    A Kurdish fighter from the People's Protection Units (YPG) carries his weapon as he stands past a tank in the Ghwairan neighborhood of Hasakah, Syria, August 22, 2016.
    © REUTERS/ Rodi Said
    A Kurdish fighter from the People's Protection Units (YPG) carries his weapon as he stands past a tank in the Ghwairan neighborhood of Hasakah, Syria, August 22, 2016.

    Dr. Nihat Ali Ozcan, a security policy analyst at the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV), echoes Solmazturk's concerns.

    According to Dr. Ozcan, the creation of safe zones in Syria would only prolong the war and prompt the conflict of interests in the Syrian Arab Republic.

    "The idea to create safe zones in Syria has several dimensions," Dr. Ozcan told Sputnik Turkiye, "One of the key dimensions is a political one."

    He explained that these zones would strengthen political positions of one of the warring parties. On the other hand, it would help the US-backed armed forces to gather strength in these safe zones and undergo necessary military training to continue their fight on the ground.

    "There they [armed opposition] will feel safe from the central government, which they are in state of war with; they will be able to undergo appropriate military training and then continue hostilities," he said.

    As a result the conflict on the ground will go on.

    "It may extend over a dozen years," Dr. Ozcan assumed, "It is especially necessary to consider the military consequences of such a step [the introduction of safe zones]."

    The question then arises who will help the US to introduce these safe zones, he stressed. If the US relies on the Kurdish military forces on the ground while implementing safe zones and fighting Daesh, the ongoing war could eventually transform into an Arab-Kurdish standoff, the analyst warned.

    In any event, one should carefully weigh the pros and cons before creating any no-fly or safe zones in Syria, Dr. Ozcan concluded.

    As of yet, Donald Trump has not signed any orders aimed at establishing safe zones in Syria.


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    US foreign policy, no-fly zone, safe zones, buffer zone, US military bases, The Syrian war, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), Bashar al-Assad, Donald Trump, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey, Syria, United States, Russia
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    • avatar
      marcanhaltin reply tomarcanhalt(Show commentHide comment)
      marcanhalt, Can you tell it is "prime time' on the west coast? The fruits and the nuts just keep falling off the truck. If left to themselves, they would have given us Hillary without a whimper. Instead, they show up among the critical thinkers. JTOLAU
    • Drain the swamp
      Its the supply lines, stupid !! Now that Turkey is on board, only the supply line via N Lebanon remains, and the Russians have already sunk a few traffickers boats there, so that supply line is now blocked. But the corruption within Syria means food,fuel,etc will steal reach the headchoppers plus a few CIA arms air drops !! But Pompeo and Trump are in charge now.
    • avatar
      A quote:

      >"" in a break from drafts that had been circulating earlier this week — drops a longtime Trump campaign pledge to establish safe zones in Syria to give Syrian nationals displaced by the ongoing civil war in the country a place to relocate.

      Source; www.wbnews.info/2017/0...

      The Syrian Government is NOT bombing the Kurds.
      The Syrian Government is NOT bombing the Turks "Euphrates Shield" operation in Northern Syria.
      The ONLY folks that need protection, is the Kurds need to be protected from the Turks.
      If the Kurds got protection from the Turks by the US, the Kurds would use the 'safe zone' to build a force capable of carving a "Kurdistan" out of Turkey.
    • avatar
      Trump is desperately trying to save the American mercenaries in Syria.
    • avatar
      If Moscow allowed it, Moscow is nothing more than just MOST COWARDS.
    • avatar
      The idea of safe zones looks more like an attempt to hamper Russian, Syrian and Iranian efforts to put an end to this war. It looks like an attempt to prolong the conflict. Plus it increases the risk of 'accidents'. I think that any outside parties that want to get involved should act in good faith, in the interest of the Syrian people and should support the process of reconciliation that was initiated by the Astana peace talks. The people that have been displaced need to return to their homes and relearn to live in peace and tolerance. They don't need to move to so called safe zones. Perhaps Donald Trump wants another bargaining chip that he could use in negotiations perhaps the US administration cannot get over their obsession of breaking up Syria or ousting Assad. Whatever reason it might be behind safe zones it must be reiterated that establishing safe zones without UN security aproval or without permission from the Syrian government is illegal. If they do it outside of the UN or without the consent of the Syrian administration it will be another stain on the US record. Why this obsession with Syria? The US coalition didn't even finnish the job in iraq. A few months ago they began the assault of Mosul then soon afterwards everything stalled. Have I missed something? Has Mosul been liberated yet? Aren't they supposed to be fighting Daesh? How come there's no need for safe zones in Iraq?
    • avatar
      Regardless of what Trump wants, there is no way Russia is going to allow that to happen. Period!
    • avatar
      Trump executive order makes no mention of Syria safe zones: Natasha Bertrand


      Full text of order from NY Times


      The draft supposedly gave the Pentagon a time period to figure out "safe zones", now no such order. The "safe zone" idea doesn't fit with any kind of cooperation to fight terror in Syria unless it is helping the Syria government to protect its people who it already protects in safe zones.
    • avatar
      maybe he's whistling in the wind, to see what the President's reaction might be.
    • jo6pac
    • Alex Stanley
      Russia sgould simply say no to such rubbish.
    • Listens Skyblue
      This is an opportunity for Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and Russia - Now would be a great time to esatablish safe zones by each of these entities and make them no-fly zones under Russia and Syrian auspices. These zones already exist, just waiting to be declared 'safe'. Take it away from Trump who, as corporate CEO of the United States Inc, is just obeying his board members and wishes to please the indoctrinated stockholders (the ignorant US citizens that voted for him or Clinton). Keep in mind the appeal of Trump is his business acumen, his moral compass is only relevant if public opinion truly has any force with his Washington headquarters.

      As a corporation head CEO Trump can make noises at China regarding the 'South China Sea'. Corporations are seldom bound by any constitution in their private profit making decisions and Trump is head CEO of a corporation - NOT any mob (democratic) chosen head of a legitimate government. He is a perfect figurehead for whatever actions his handlers desire. The actions will modify according to the stockholders (compliant sheep) feelings.

      Also, please note, the border 'wall' along Mexico is also meant to keep people from leaving America, i.e. locking Americans in the areas controlled unlawfully by the US corporation. The US corp believes the people living here are it's property - US citizens, not American sovereign state nationals (of which there are few).

      Also note that executive orders are 'administrative' and have no force where the US inc or USA inc are without jurisdiction. If you are not part of the 'administration' the songs of the CEO should have no relevance. Trump is the choir leader, the congress are his singers and musicians, the corporate courts keep the stockholders in line and the music is written by those standing in the shadows. Only an education system fraudulently identifying the US Inc and the USA Inc with Americans living on private land makes this scheme work along with the long cultivated worshipful devotion to the war flag hanging in schools and courts and corporate government buildings.

      Seeing the facts behind the centuries old fraud of the United States is quite a peaceful eye opener. Having a government service organization need not be a bad matter - if it is truly transparent and very limited in its scope, which it has never been! It would hardly matter who the President/CEO of the US or USA is if the man/woman CEO was strictly limited even by the incomplete constitution 'for' the United States of America. Oh by the way, there are trillions of dollars in America for rebuilding without extracting a penny from the devoted slaves living here. Look up 'Walter Burien' and CAFR.
    • Listens Skybluein reply toListens Skyblue(Show commentHide comment)
      Listens Skyblue, The one factor regarding Trump is the very possible emergence of a 'good' service organization for America. He could be moving in this direction. It will take months to get some sense of his approach.
    • choticastilein reply tojas(Show commentHide comment)
      jas, "he focus should be on destroying ISIS and supporting and coordinating with the Syrian government. Fix the problem instead of being obsessed with the symptoms. "

      Almost my exact words to someone else here yesterday-- the root cause is terrorists of all stripes-- knock hell into them from the get go and while this is in progress, cut off all access to funding and supply of weapons-- so they run dry, which would sort them out the fastest. No need for safe zones-- needing complicated logistics and causing yet more delays, is not realistic either, as terrorists will only regroup while all this is being set up.
    • CrowFoot
      If Trump wants to know how to deal with terrorism in the middle-east and elsewhere? Hire Ramzan Kadyrov as a consultant.
      If one man knows how to handle hot headed muslim terrorists, it's this man.
      What he's achieved in his semi-autonomous region is admirable. Not that the Caucasus region is now free of terrorism (far from) but it's no longer the no go zone it was 10 years ago. At least Grozny isn't. Kadyrov is the Chechen Trump. He has intelligence, courage and panache.
    • choticastilein reply tojyd22(Show commentHide comment)
      jyd22, I read somewhere they are apparently setting up a safe zone in Iraq-- but not sure ... About what you said ... Look the US is determined to come in and although its a risk for Russia... because its a huge catch 22 situation... also many probably feel like you do... But you're right the Astana meetings could do the trick, but there's problems with the so-called opposition-- Zakharova blasted them the other day too-- as it seems they're demanding. Okay, let me not digress-- As for my opinion, safe zones is taboo-- almost like another red herring... why even consider it-- it will complicate matters exactly as you said. But giving Trump the benefit of the doubt here ... maybe he wants to restore the globally tarnished image BO created of the US, because its an ideal opportunity to do so and also push up Trumps ratings in the US overnight?

      But what I think is critical to achieve and which Russia should insist on-- is that first off-- Trump must get the bstds supplying and sponsoring the terros, to cut off funding and weapons with immediate effect -- as you know Saudi & Qatar are two of them-- both US allies. Trump must know who all the benefactors of these monsters are, as for sure as hell, Putin does! Can give it to him, because i believe Russia long since knows who all these mongrels are-- many of them come from G20 nations, for the moment all their aid ceases--they're trapped and it won't take very long for that to become a reality on the ground. In the meantime Russia and the SAA et al continue fighting as they've been doing and it will soon be evident that their burden is lessening, so much in fact that it might not even be necessary for the US to enter the fray-- maybe the forces the US currently have in northern Syria, could assist Russian and SAA with Intel-

      These are simply my thoughts-- I can tell you now that Russia is completely clued up about it all, not only the few little suggestions I'd had the cheek to make here! I definitely wouldn't make a good strategist! But common sense tells me, that the whole Battle for Syria should remain as simple and uncomplicated as possible. At any rate, if Trump bring his bit by ensuring terrorist funding and weaponry are stopped, it would go along way to restore trust and don't forget, Trump is in the first year of his presidency-- he cannot afford to lose face or disappoint the people of the US again....

      But if he gets it right in Syria and to boot working with Russia, the US national pride will have a huge boost and it would also be clear to the globalist cabal, that they're dead in the water. The world would respect Trump too.

      I leave you here with two interviews Bashar al-Assad gave in 2015, in which he addresses a lot of what is spoken about here-- both the interviews are excellent and show that the way he has been crucified in the US fake media, is actually criminal, because its based on outright lies -- very worthwhile reads: Anyway, would appreciate your feedback. Thanks.

    • choticastilein reply tojyd22(Show commentHide comment)
      jyd22jyd22, Check out link from jo6pac above... I did not want to post it here, although I read it too--- but VERY worthwhile and you must read the various news offerings to the end ... it might give you more confidence that Trump is sincere... At any rate Russia will not slap the US in the face now... they're already down and they must give Trump the benefit of the doubt. I also think he needs a chance.... BTW Russia is safe as houses no matter what happens ...
    • avatar
      jyd22in reply tochoticastile(Show commentHide comment)
      choticastile, I am 100 percent sure he can afford
    • choticastilein reply tojyd22(Show commentHide comment)
      jyd22, Well let's see what happens.... thanks for your response!
    • avatar
      All of Syria will be a "safe zone" when all these American trained ISIS cutthroats are dead and buried.
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