“If we do not reach a consensus, we will be forced to form a security zone alone.”
There had been intense discussions between Turkey and the United States for several months over the S-400 issue. They were full of hard mutual accusations and threats from every side. Turkey did not back down, and Russia began supplying the S-400 air defense systems after all. After the deliveries began, the American side spoke, once again, about imposing sanctions against Turkey. President Trump had even held secret meetings with Congress.
Regarding the F-35 program, Turkish Defense Minister Akar reminded his American counterpart, Mark Esper, that Turkey is not only a client of this project, but also acts as an investor and production partner, and also expressed confidence that the F-35 project should be implemented earlier than intended.
However, the United States realized that it was not in their best interest to burn bridges with Turkey and, at least for the time being, chose to postpone the S-400 issue. Just as the relationship began to relax, a new hotbed of tension has arisen – the “security zone” in Syria. Negotiations between Turkey and the United States on the creation of a Syrian “security zone” have been underway for a long time, but neither side has been willing to make concessions. Given this, the recent statements made by the Turkish Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar are of particular relevance. Clearly, this demonstrates the decisiveness of the Turkish position.
Defense Minister Akar had a telephone call with Pentagon chief Mark Esper on Monday. The main topics revolved around the security zone, the War on Terrorism and the F-35 program, according to the statement from the Turkish Ministry of Defense. The Ministry hoped that the United States would stop their support of the Kurdistan Workers Party and other Turkish-designated terrorist organizations and that Turkey was the only force capable of ensuring control and stability within the security zone. The Ministry of Defense also listed a series of topics that Minister Akar discussed with the US Secretary of Defense:
- Turkey expects that the United States will completely cease support for the terrorist organizations “Kurdistan Workers’ Party” and “People’s Self-Defense Forces”,
- Turkey will not allow the creation of a terrorist corridor at its southern borders,
- Turkey seeks to ensure not only its own security and well-being, but also the security of religious and ethnic groups living in the region, such as Kurds, Arabs, Christians, and Yezidis.
Regarding the security zone planned to be formed in the north of Syria:
- Turkey is the only force capable of ensuring control over the security zone,
- The security zone must be formed in accordance with such criteria as the complete confiscation of weapons from the terrorists of the “Kurdistan Workers’ Party” and the “Popular Self-Defense Forces” that are present in the security zone,
- final withdrawal of the “Kurdistan Workers’ Party” and the “National Self-Defense Forces” from the security zone
- formation of a security zone at a distance of 30–40 km,
- destruction of all tunnels, positions, and warehouses of the PKK / YPG in the region,
- Turkey’s control over the security zone in coordination with the United States.