Syria: between attacks and agreements

Ten days after Trump's decision to remove troops from the border of Turkey and Syria, his government and Erdogan's have reached a temporary agreement .

View of the city in Syria

View of the city in Syria. / Photo: EFE

LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez

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Leer en español: Siria: entre ataques y acuerdos

The attacks by Turkey did not wait once the US president withdrew his troops. These actions meant that in just three days, more than 100,000 Syrians had to move from their homes in search of shelter.

Since the departure of US troops, the attacks by Turkey did not stop and in a few days, the death toll reached 300 civilians, according to El Tiempo.

What is going on in Syria?

Syria has been a battlefield in recent years where the main victims have been the civilian population. A conflict that takes more than 8 years and a half and has unleashed in a wave of internal and external forced displacement. According to UNICEF data, there are 6.2 million displaced families throughout Syrian territory and another 5.6 are refugees in other countries, one of them is Turkey.

The conflict also has different actors that stand in the way. On the one hand, there is the Syrian government, under the command of Bashir al-Ásad, whose actions, considered as dictatorial, began a civil war. From this, citizen armies emerged that sought to overthrow the al-Ásad government but ended up unleashing a wave of violence that the government has called jihadist terrorism, with the Islamic State (ISIS).

On the other hand are the Kurds, a people who have been fighting for decades ago – since the end of World War I – to get a State. Meanwhile, they live mainly in Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria. Most of them are in Turkey and Erdogan have listed them as a terrorist group. In each of the countries where they are located, the Kurds have led their own struggles against governments, becoming enemies of the majority, such as Turkey.

However, in Syria, the Kurds have led a fight not only against the government but against the Islamic State. This led them to be the main US allies in the fight against jihadist terrorism. Currently, under US protection, the Kurds have the main jihadist leaders imprisoned in Syria.

Therefore, Turkey's attacks on the Kurds with the intention of clearing the border area where they currently are, present to the eyes of the international community the possibility of the jihadist's resurgence.

For its part, the international community has repeatedly raised its voice to demand the resignation of Bashir al-Ásad, led by the European Union, the United States and neighboring Turkey. Meanwhile, countries like Russia defend al-Ásad's sovereignty and deny international intervention in internal affairs. In addition, they are the main suppliers of the war armament of the Arab country.

This has turned the main cities, such as Aleppo and Damascus, into war camps where the main victims have been civilians. After all, it is a struggle of powers and different intertwined interests that have ended up affecting citizens.

Consequences and negotiations

Although Trump said in a press conference at the beginning of the week that “if Turkey enters Syria, it is between Turkey and Syria. It is not our problem", the president has responded to the attacks with possible sanctions for the Recep Tayyip Erdogan government.

Via Twitter, Donald Trump said: "I am fully prepared to quickly destroy Turkey's economy if Turkish leaders continue on their dangerous and destructive path." In the few days that the threat lasted, he said he would put 50% tariffs on Turkish steel, punish officials and former officials and withdraw from negotiations for a possible trade agreement.

This announcement, although not effective, was enough for both governments (USA and Turkey) to sit down to discuss the next actions of the offensives. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met with Erdogan in Ankara to discuss a possible ceasefire. The agreement consists of a temporary suspension of military offensives that will last 120 hours.

Read also: Trump warns Turkey about war in Syria

The purpose of this is that during that time the Kurdish-Arab forces, the Syrian Democratic Forces, leave the border area with Turkey. The role of the United States in this cease-fire will be to help the Kurds to carry out an organized deployment so that the decision, which until now is only temporary, becomes final.

The condition of this negotiation is that the United States withdraw the economic sanctions it threatened to put on Turkey, even though President Erdogan had stated that the sanctions "did not concern him".

The Turkish government seeks to clear the border zone altogether, which means that Kurdish forces, which Turkey considers a terrorist group, must leave. The purpose of the clearing, which seeks to create a “safety zone” of 32 kilometers, is to relocate 3.6 million Syrians who are currently taking refuge in Turkey. This intention has not been well seen in the international community, since it is considered that Turkey wants to remove refugees from its territory, which is not allowed under the gaze of International Refugee Law.

Pending what may happen, the Kurds and the Syrian government, which have not normally been allies, have done so to counteract the actions of Turkey in northern Syria. So if the Turkish offensive resumes after the temporary pact, the Syrian government would also act against Erdogan.

The 120 hours of the temporary agreement reached by the US government with the Turkish end on Tuesday, October 22.

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