Turkey ‘will go it alone’ with Syria security zone

Turkey expects a "safe zone" to be in place in Syria along the Turkish border within a few months and only Ankara can establish it, President Tayyip Erdogan said. (Reuters)
Updated 25 January 2019

Turkey ‘will go it alone’ with Syria security zone

  • Erdogan in new threat to drive Kurdish YPG fighters back 32km from border
  • Ankara has been threatening for months to launch an offensive in northern Syria to drive out US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters

JEDDAH: Turkey may establish its own 32km security zone in northern Syria to keep Kurdish militias away from its border, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.
The threat by Ankara to “go it alone” with a buffer zone follows silence from Washington on US involvement in the plan.
President Donald Trump proposed the border zone, but has not specified who would create, enforce or pay for it, or where exactly it would be.
“We expect the promise of a security zone, a buffer zone aimed at protecting our country from terrorists, to be fulfilled in few months,” Erdogan said on Friday. “Otherwise we will establish it ourselves.
“Our only expectation from our allies is that they provide logistical support to Turkey's effort. Our patience has a limit. We will not wait for ever for the fulfilment of the promises given to us.”
Erdogan said neither the UN nor the international coalition formed to protect the Syrian people were capable of creating a safe zone or maintaining security in the region.
“The only power that can in a true sense establish the safety and functioning of this region on our Syrian border is Turkey,” he said. “We are closed to all proposed solutions besides this.”
He said Turkey had the right to enter Syrian territory when it was threatened under a 1998 agreement with Damascus after Syria expelled the Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan, now jailed in Turkey.
Ankara regards the Syrian Kurdish YPG as an extension of Ocalan’s Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought a decades-long insurgency in southeast Turkey.
The YPG has played a key role in the US-led coalition against Daesh. Trump had previously warned Ankara not to attack Kurdish fighters in Syria, and threatened retaliation against Turkey’s economy.
US special Syria envoy James Jeffrey held talks in Ankara on Friday with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and armed forces chief Gen. Yasar Guler. Akar told him Turkey expected the US to end its support for the YPG and complete the road map which the two countries agreed upon for the Syrian town of Manbij to the west of the Euphrates. 
Military operations against Daesh in Syria are wrapping up and the last pockets of the self-proclaimed “caliphate” will be flushed out within a month, a top commander said.
“The operation of our forces against Daesh in its last pocket has reached its end and Daesh fighters are now surrounded in one area,” said Mazloum Kobani, head of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
With backing from the US-led coalition, the SDF are in the last phase of an operation started on Sept. 10 to defeat the jihadists in their Euphrates Valley bastions in eastern Syria.


UAE adopts new government structure, full announcement to come on Sunday

Updated 48 min 49 sec ago

UAE adopts new government structure, full announcement to come on Sunday

  • The decision aims "to produce a government that is more flexible and fast and keeping pace with change," according to Dubai's Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid
  • The gulf nation would review the structure and size of its government as part of its strategy for dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates has adopted a new government structure, involving the merger of ministries and agencies, the country's vice president and ruler of Dubai said on Saturday, adding that the full announcement would be made on Sunday at noon (0800 GMT).

The decision aims "to produce a government that is more flexible and fast and keeping pace with change," Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum said on Twitter.

In May, he said the country would review the structure and size of its government as part of its strategy for dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.