ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Top officials from the Kurdish-backed administrations in northeastern Syria have called on European states to create an international force and safe zone and not to abandon the Syrian Kurds.
“If they [Europe] don’t meet their commitments, they are effectively abandoning us,” Aldar Khalil, a top Syrian Kurdish official, told AFP on Sunday.
Khalil called on France, in particular, to work with the United Nations to create a buffer zone along the border with Turkey. He said it could be modeled on the UN peace forces in Lebanon.
“France can table a proposal to the Security Council on our protection, suggesting an international force between us and the Turks – of which it would be part – or to protect our airspace.”
Abdul Hamid al-Muhabash, the co-chair of the Democratic Autonomous Administration (DAA) in northeastern Syria, told Kurdistan 24 that any buffer zone should be under “international sponsorship and the UN.”
“We, as a self-administration, support this idea [of creating a safe zone] if it achieves the safety and security in the area,” he said. “But it should be an international force and managed through the UN.”
However, he rejected any plans to create a Turkish safe zone because if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan supports such an idea, Muhabash said, it would “be an occupation and not a safe zone.”
The DAA co-chair emphasized that the administrations are not just made up of Kurds.
“This is a very negative concept in the media,” he stated. “All components of the geography of the north and east Syria are involved in the administrations, and Arabs compose the majority.”
After a general meeting on Sunday, the Military Council of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said they would welcome an international safe zone “to establish security and peace on our northern border.”
In early January, the chair of the German Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee argued that the UN should create a buffer zone to protect Syria’s Kurdish population.
Roderich Kiesewetter, a member of the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, told German media outlet Deutschlandfunk that France and Germany could propose this idea at a UN Security Council meeting.
However, the creation of an international safe zone could pose a challenge as it needs approval from the UN Security Council, and Russia has the right to veto any resolution.
On Thursday, Russia told Turkey it could not create a “safe zone” in Syria without consent from the Syrian government. In the past, Russia has underlined that Syria’s territorial integrity should be restored.
According to Nicolas A. Heras, a Middle East security analyst at the Center for a New American Security, Russia holds significant influence on UN action in Syria.
“A UN-run zone in northeast Syria will not happen unless Russia approves it,” Heras told Kurdistan 24 on Monday. “If Russia does not want the UN to do something it does not happen.”
“Russia is the boss of UN action in Syria, and everyone including the United States has to kiss its ring.”
Ibrahim Murad, the representative of the self-administration of North and East Syria in Germany, proposed a different idea. He told Kurdistan 24 in January that he hopes Western states create a no-fly zone.
“We hope the international states like the US, France, Germany, and the UK will prevent this [a Turkish attack on Syrian Kurds] and create a no-fly zone area for the people,” Murad stated.
“This would help us eradicate [the Islamic State] and find a solution to the Syrian conflict.”
Foreign Affairs ministers will gather in Brussels on Monday to discuss the situation in Syria and US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw forces from the war-torn country, among other issues related to foreign affairs.
Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Didier Reynders, told Kurdistan 24 on Friday that one of the top concerns is the planned US withdrawal from Syria.
“We are in discussion to see if it is possible to organize a safe zone in the northeast part of Syria,” he said, “taking into account the last decision of the US administration to organize the withdrawal from Syria.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany