Senior German politician argues for UN buffer zone to protect Syria’s Kurds

The chair of the German parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee argued on Wednesday that a UN buffer zone should be created to protect Syria’s Kurds.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - The chair of the German parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee argued on Wednesday that a UN buffer zone should be created to protect Syria’s Kurds.

Roderich Kiesewetter, a member of the ruling Christian Democratic (CDU) party, suggested that France and Germany could propose this idea in a UN Security Council meeting, he told German media outlet Deutschlandfunk in an interview.   

Kiesewetter stressed that Turkey should not be allowed to launch a third operation over its southern border into Syria.

“In 2016 they [Turkey] had ‘Euphrates shield,’ in the year 2018 the ‘Operation Olive Branch,’ an illegal international occupation of northern Syria. Now it must not come to a third offensive of Turkey in Syria,” he said. “We need a sanctuary, and the United Nations could do that for the Kurds of northern Syria, under UN influence.”

Last month, a German Bundestag (parliament) committee report stated that Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria constitutes an occupying power, as reported by the Jerusalem Post.

France will begin presiding over the Security Council in March 2019 as part of the body’s rotating leadership and then will be succeeded by Germany in April. “In my opinion, this is a way out of the crisis,” Kiesewetter argued, suggesting that Europe should present a unified foreign policy.

He argued that Europe must speak with a stronger voice after US president Donald Trump’s recent surprise decision to withdraw troops from Syria, adding that the move was not in any way coordinated with the EU. 

Moreover, he said that President Trump doesn’t even listen to his own State Department or military before making such crucial decisions, as shown by US senators who argued that their country should stay in Syria and also the resignations of US Defense Secretary Mattis and Coalition Envoy Brett McGurk.

The official suggested that Trump’s decision would make Russia, Iran, and Turkey the dominant powers in the region, saying, “That cannot be in the West’s interest right now.”

Last Sunday, following a lunch meeting with President Donald Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham stated the view that Trump would make sure “that our allies, the Kurds, are protected.”

Graham explained that Trump would be “talking to Turkey about assuring [the Turks] that they will have a buffer zone,” given “their concerns about the YPG Kurds.”

However, Kurds in Syria say they fear a Turkish buffer zone would lead to a “second Afrin,” alluding to widespread human rights abuses and mass displacement of Kurds that have taken place there under the invasion and occupation of Turkish and Turkish-backed forces.

“The news is that Turkey wants a 25 miles deep buffer zone alongside a 400-mile border East of Syria's Euphrates,” Bassam Ishak, the president of the Syriac National Council of Syria and a member of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), tweeted on Tuesday.

“This is not a buffer zone but occupation of land of Kurds, Syriac Christians, and other Syrians," he concluded. "It's an ethnic cleansing project run by extremist jihadi mercenaries.”

Editing by John J. Catherine