David Phillips: Turkey wants to prevent the emergence of an autonomous Kurdish area in Syria

Director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights, Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights

The following letter was sent by David Phillips to New York Times editor as a response to an article written by Hellene Cooper which appeared on December 2, titled as “No Agreement Reached on Syrian No-Fly Zone” where she discusses ongoing disagreement between Turkey and the US.

David Phillips

Turkey insists that the Obama administration enforce a no-fly zone in northeast of Syria before it allows American war planes to use nearby Incirlik air base to attack Islamic State fighters. What is behind Turkey’s demands?

Turkey wants to prevent the emergence of an autonomous Kurdish area on the Syrian side of its border. Turkish forces would police a buffer zone, not to deny access by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, but to pressure Syrian Kurds battling ISIS.

The proposed air-exclusion zone is far from Homs and Aleppo, where Syria is dropping barrel bombs.

Evidence of Turkey’s complicity with ISIS continues to mount. Suicide truck bombs recently attacked Kurds in Kobani from the Turkish side of the border. Turkish troops looked away as ISIS shelled Kurdish refugees fleeing Kobani.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey demanded an apology from Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. for remarks about the jihadi highway from Gaziantep in Turkey to Syria. When Mr. Biden visited Turkey to discuss cooperation, Mr. Erdogan later berated the United States for “impertinence.”

Is that any way for a NATO ally to behave?

DAVID L. PHILLIPS
New York, Dec. 2, 2014

The writer is director of the Program on Peace-Building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights

See original New York Times article here

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