Throughout the Syrian Civil War, Turkey has sought to ease the costs of absorbing millions of civilian refugees by establishing a “safe zone” in Syrian territory, along their mutual border, which could house the refugees instead. Turkey has often tried to sell this to the US with an idea that it would also house Western-backed rebels, giving them meaningful territory.
With their invasion of Syria two weeks ago, Turkey has effectively occupied a good chunk of this proposed zone militarily already, but despite trying to present this as having already done the heavy lifting, there is still little international support for the plan.
Much of the international community wasn’t thrilled with Turkey just up and invading Syria, and even if they weren’t exactly surprised, it seems that there is a substantial uphill battle to sell anyone else on the idea of funding and defending this safe zone.
Ironically, while Turkey seemingly hoped the invasion would force the issue on a plan that has long been debated but never fully endorsed, the fact that they are already there, and already defending the zone, may convince even potential supporters of the idea that they don’t need to stick their necks out at all. Turkey is already there, and that makes it Turkey’s problem.
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