Uncertainty overshadows the future of the Turkey-US ‘safe-zone’ plan in northern Syria. Delineating the plan, which departs from the premise of pushing the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) away from the Turkish border, has been a topic of debate between the two states. While there appears to be an understanding between the stakeholders on building a safe zone, contentious interactions continue to unfold regarding the safe-zone’s details. Turkey, on various occasions, has expressed its discontent from US interludes and has promised to take unliteral actions if the US fails to deliver its commitments on the agreement.
“Turkey is not a country to be stalled” stated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the course of actions held at the United Nations General Assembly. President Erdogan claims that the safe-zone paves a way for settling around two million of the 3.6 million Syrians currently present in Turkey. To deliver these numbers, Turkish officials disclosed to their US counterparts a $26.6 billion project that attempts to establish new facts on ground. This is done through constructing 10 district centers and 140 villages that provide housing for 30,000, and 5,000 inhabitants each, respectively. These constructions are to be accompanied by certain facilities such as mosques, schools, youth centers and indoor sports halls, in an attempt to forge a smooth settlement for Syrians in Turkey.
Turkey’s approach to northern Syria is putting the region’s societal texture at jeopardy. Not only will the previously mentioned project eventually trigger a hazardous demographic shift as Arab families would replace Kurdish ones, but it will also build a refugee wall that separates Turkey from the SDF, distancing the former from the Kurdish community in northern Syria. Yet as Turkey continues to exploit the Syrians to entrench a future transition that pours into its favor, the Syrian government remains absent from the scene as its responses don’t go beyond condemnations.