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    A Turkish military armored vehicle drives in the northern Syrian rebel-held town of al-Rai, Syria January 5, 2017

    Trump's Plan on Safe Zones in Syria 'Spelling Trouble' for Turkey

    © REUTERS / Khalil Ashawi
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    US President Donald Trump appears to be intent on creating safe zones in Syria. This plan could present additional challenges for Ankara if Washington decides to establish a corridor in northern Syria under Kurdish control, Faruk Logoglu, Turkey's former ambassador to the United States, told Sputnik Turkey.

    "Turkey has long advocated creating a safe zone in the border region," the diplomat said, referring to the area where Ankara has conducted its Operation Euphrates Shield. "However, if Trump announces that he wants to create a safe zone in the entire northern Syria, Turkey will face major problems."

    Ankara launched Operation Euphrates Shield on 24 August to push Daesh out of cities and settlements located on Syria's border with Turkey. The military intervention has also been aimed at preventing Kurdish forces from moving further west and taking the entire border region under control. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his supporters maintain that this will empower the Kurds in Syria and fuel unrest in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeastern provinces.

    Washington has relied extensively on the Kurds in its anti-Daesh efforts, much to Turkey's discontent.

    Although Ankara has been viewed as one of Washington's key allies in the Middle East, both countries have not discussed safe zones since the Trump administration came to power. 

    "The majority of Syrian refugees are in Turkey. They have also settled in Jordan and Iraq. Clearly the stance of these countries on safe zones in Syria matters, but Turkey's take on the issue is of key importance. However, we have not seen Turkey and the [Trump administration] discuss this issue. Turkey's Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling for a thorough and comprehensive review of this issue and its potential implications. This was a right step, but it has shown that Ankara and Washington have not conducted official direct talks on Trump's initiative," the diplomat observed.

    US President Donald Trump reaffirmed that his administration was in favor of creating safe zones in Syria last week.  

    "Washington and Ankara need to discuss this issue as soon as possible while this process has not been finalized. Otherwise, it could be too late to discuss anything. In this context I am concerned that Trump has spoken to leaders of many countries, but he has not talked to Erdogan and there are no signs that their conversation will take place in the near future," Faruk Logoglu said.

    The diplomat also warned that Trump's plan could affect the Geneva peace process. This initiative could to a certain extent "embolden" the opposition, offering an opportunity to delay the talks. Should this happen, "all achievement reached at the Astana talks could be brought to nothing," he said.

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    Syrian Kurds, safe zones, Syrian crisis, Syrian conflict, Daesh, Osman Faruk Logoglu, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Donald Trump, Syria, Turkey, United States
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