Speaking to CNN today, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that his allies are “warming” to the idea of imposing a safe zone in northern Syria, a plan that his government had advocated for years as an alternative to Turkey accepting massive numbers of refugees.
Erdogan didn’t specify who the allies are, but the claim is likely not true, as only last week the State Department declared that an initially agree to program for creating a safe zone was being abandoned outright, convinced that there is “no viable way” to create such a zone anymore.
Erdogan also talked up the idea of a no-fly zone across northern Syria, which is precisely the reason why the State Department declared the safe zone unworkable. With Russia carrying out airstrikes against ISIS across northern Iraq, trying to keep Russian warplanes out of the area appears a herculean task.
Turkish officials didn’t comment when the State Department dismissed the plan, and Erdogan’s comments are the first public mention of the safe zone since then, suggesting that they and the Obama Administration are far apart on the strategy for northern Syria.