Turkey and the U.S. are getting closer to an agreement on the details of a proposed safe zone in northeast Syria along the Turkish border, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu revealed on May 2.
“We are close to reaching an agreement with Washington on the safe zone in Syria … We want to establish a safe zone east of the Euphrates River after the withdrawal of the majority of U.S. forces from the country,” Cavusoglu said responding to a question at a news conference about Turkish talks this week with the U.S. special envoy for Syria, according to RT.
Regarding the recent phone call between Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Donald Trump, Cavusoglu said that all the joint issues where discussed during the call in “a positive atmosphere.” The minister added that Trump may visit Ankara next summer.
Northeastern Syria is controlled by a US-backed group known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The group’s core is the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and even elements of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Due to this, Ankara views the group as a threat to its national security.
In an attempt to ensure Turkey’s concerns, the U.S. has been working to establish a safe zone in northeastern Syria in cooperation with other NATO countries. However, the plan didn’t please Ankara, whose defense minister insisted on several occasions that any safe zone in the region should be controlled by the Turkish military only.
The SDF will not likely hand over its positions along the border to the Turkish military. However, the U.S. may be planing to force both sides to share the control of the region. Such a solution would cement long-term U.S. military presence in Syria.