Erdogan and Trump discuss security zone in northern Syria

In the struggle for a solution for northern Syria following the withdrawal of US troops, Turkey and the US are discussing the establishment of a “security zone” along the Syrian-Turkish border.

Trump had resent the idea during a phone call during the night, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a speech to parliamentarians on Tuesday. He thinks that’s positive. After the speech, he said to journalists, according to Anadolu news agency, “If the coalition forces, especially America, support us logistically and financially, we can implement a security zone.”

Trump had applied the zone two days ago in a tweet, without going into the idea. Erdogan According to the zone is about 30 kilometers deep. Where exactly they should begin and end, remained open. Even who would protect them from the Turkish point of view and who should live there, remained unclear.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday in Riyadh on the topic of security zone, from the US point of view, there are two goals: they want to ensure that Turkey can not be attacked by “terrorists” from Syria. And: Security for the Kurdish militia YPG, which helped the US in the fight against the terrorist militia IS.

Dealing with the allied with the US Kurdish fighters is the biggest issue between the US and Turkey in Syria. Turkey has been planning an offensive against the YPG militia in Syria for a long time. For Turkey, the Kurdish fighters who control territories on the border with Turkey are terrorists. For the US, they are important allies in the fight against the terrorist militia IS.

The phone call between Erdogan and Trump followed a publicized via Twitter escalation of the dispute between Washington and Ankara over the planned Turkish offensive and was apparently intended to limit the damage. Trump had threatened Monday night with “economic destruction” if she attacked the Kurdish allies of the United States. After the telephone conversation he did – again via Twitter – but again a U-turn: It also talked about the economic development of both countries, he wrote – “great potential for a significant expansion!”

The telephone conversation was “extremely positive,” said Erdogan, who has long been demanding a security zone on the Turkish border. He and Trump agreed on many issues – that has “historical significance,” Erdogan said, according to Anadolu.

Trump spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said after the phone call that the president assured Erdogan that they would work with Turkey on their security concerns in northeastern Syria. At the same time, however, he emphasized that the Kurds and other armed forces with which the US had fought ISIS should not be mistreated. She referred to a conversation between US Chief of Staff Joseph Dunford and Turkish representatives at a NATO meeting in Brussels. At first there were no details.

At the same time, Turkey continued to equip itself on the border with Syria. The government-related newspaper “Daily Sabah” on Tuesday according to military convoys had arrived there again. Turkey faces several challenges in northern Syria. The controversial offensive against the YPG plans the military for areas east of the river Euphrates. At the same time, al-Qaeda-affiliated rebels have now fully circled the Turkish positions west of the Euphrates, where Turkey is to oversee a so-called de-escalation zone in Idlib province, as Turkish Syria expert Fehim Tastekin reported on Monday in the Polit-Blog Al-Monitor ,

On January 23, Erdogan wants to meet on the subject of Syria with Kremlin boss Putin. Meanwhile, the new UN mediator Geir Pedersen first visited Syria. He met with Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallim in the capital Damascus on Tuesday, the state news agency Sana reported. Al-Muallim said Syria was ready to cooperate with Pedersen. The aim is to find a political solution to the crisis in Syria.