Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. December 20, 2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
Fehim Taştekin, Al-Monitor: Is Erdogan promising a ghost army in Syria?
When talking to the Russians, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emphasizes Syria's territorial integrity and a peaceful resolution to that country's civil war. When talking to the Americans, Erdogan advocates a US-Turkish partnership that will also include a buffer zone. When he is conversing with Gulf leaders, the Turkish president slams Tehran and Damascus. A Syrian policy with a truly oriental flavor!
In his recent Gulf tour of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and in violation of the spirit of the Astana process jointly promoted with Russia and Iran, Erdogan expanded its targets in Syria. According to the Turkish president, Operation Euphrates Shield will continue after ousting the Islamic State (IS) from al-Bab. The new objectives will be Manbij and Raqqa in a three-phased operation. First will be setting up a "terror-free safe zone," which must also be covered by a no-fly zone. Second, Arabs and Turkmens will be settled in the safe zone. Finally, a national army will be established through a "train and equip" program.
There is also an enticing economic dimension to this extravagant project. After turning an area of 1,930 square miles into a safe zone, Turkey will build new housing for refugees.
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WNU Editor: His focus has always been the same. Deny the Kurds a safe zone, and to control northern Syria so that he can have an influence on the debate on what should happen next for Syria. As to what the Syrians, Kurds, Russians, and Iranians want .... I am willing top bet that they are not sympathetic with what Erdogan has planned.