SOHR exclusive | “The ‘safe zone’ will not be safe and it is an occupation according to International Law,” politicians say
In an exclusive SOHR interview, the co-head of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), Sheikh Riad Darar says, “for Turkey, the so-called ‘safe zone’ is safe for terrorists, and not for Syrian or the residents of north Syria region,” noting that the displacement of indigenous residents have been practiced in Afrin canton and Ras Al-Ain. He states “who really wants to establish a ‘safe zone,’ then it must to be established for its residents, and indigenous resident should have the option to agree or disagree on transporting some displaced Syrians to their areas under appropriate conditions, not by occupying their areas.
Darar adds, “Turkey is an occupying power, and it seeks to establish a ‘safe zone’ to reach its unannounced objectives which are manifested in capturing the entire area along its border with the aim of preventing any Kurdish movement from being apparent in that area, because of the ‘phobia of the Kurds’ which Ankara is suffering from. We cannot ignore the fact that the new space of freedom in Syria and the achievements reached and rights obtained by Kurds bother Turkey. This justifies the aggressive practices by the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan towards Kurdish people. Erdogan exploits the global developments and the need of major powers to cooperate with Turkey, such as the public and secret deals it struck with Russia in Afrin in return for the ceasefire agreement in north-west Syria and Astana agreements. In addition, Turkey blackmailed the USA in Ras Al-Ain and Tel Abyad, where US forces withdraw from the region during the Turkish invasion at that time in order to avoid conflict or clashes with Turkey, especially since relations between Ankara and Washington are relatively good, while any conflict between these two powers would play out in favour of Russia which has been wanting to kick US forces out of Euphrates region.”
The SDC’s co-head also says, “all hostile practices by Turkey will badly impact the entire region and tear Syria apart. At a time when the Autonomous Administration is seeking to reunite north Syria region, Turkish regime is working on dividing the region and occupying large parts of Syrian territory by helping and enabling its proxy mercenaries to implement its agenda.”
Meanwhile, leader in the negotiating committee, Muhsen Hazzam sees that the success of establishing a real safe zone in north Syria, which Erdogan raised recently, depends on the balances governing and controlling relations between the international powers engaged in the Syrian crisis. The leader has told SOHR, “brandishing the threat of an offensive to establish a 30-kilometer depth ‘safe zone’ along its border with Syria, the area where Turkish forces are stationed to protect their national security, as they claim, is worthless. A new military operation by Turkish forces in north Syria is subject to the approvals by the USA and Russia, which may be granted only when a new operation will serve the interests of the two major powers.”
Commenting on Turkey’s objectives of its policy in that region, Mr. Hazzam says, “the most prominent goal behind these practices is Turkish government’s intention to export its domestic crises to Syria, mainly crises related the Turkish society’s rejection of the presence of Syrian refuges in Turkey, as well as the Turkish currency plunge, economic hardship and massive budget allocated to military activity with Turkish forces engaging into several battles in different hot zones, mainly in Syria. All these factors coincide with approaching presidential election in Turkey, in which the current Turkish regime sees that it is losing popularity in light of the growing opposition. Moreover, the Russian-Ukrainian war and its repercussions have affected the global policy.”
Muhsen Hazzam sees that the demarcation of the “safe zone” according to the alleged border will lead to a dangerous demographic change, as Syrians will be transported from refugee camps to these areas, noting that this is a policy of occupation according to International Law.
Regarding the stance of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) regarding the potential military operation by Turkish forces in north Syria, Mr. Hazzam has said that the Coalition has not announced a clear stance because of its presence in Turkey, as well as Turkish government’s support to its institutions. However, a plain rejection has been shown in the ranks of the Coalition regarding this step, and it has been manifested in the recent disagreements.
On the other hand, leader of the “Peaceful Change Path Movement,” Fateh Jamous has told SOHR, “the threats made by Turkish authorities to carry out military plans in Syria under, citing protecting Turkish strategic security as an excuse, are serious aggressive threats. These threats are an expansion of previous plans that Turkey has already implemented in Syria. This region can never be a ‘safe zone,’ where the developments on the ground undoubtedly lead to an awkward future. Turkish authorities do not seek to secure stability in that region, but they only attempt to obtain excuses to intervene in Syria’s affairs and entrench their presence inside Syrian territory.