Istanbul, Brussels, Berlin The Kurdish community in Germany is grateful to Secretary of Defense Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) for setting up an international protection zone on the Syrian border with Turkey. "It can not be that the West is leaving the Middle East and leaving the region to the Russians," said the deputy federal chairman of the Association, Mehmet Tanriverdi.
However, the likelihood that it will be able to establish an international protection force there has fallen drastically since Tuesday night. The presidents of Russia and Turkey, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have agreed at their six-hour meeting in Sochi which areas will be controlled by Syrian and Turkish troops, where the Kurdish YPG fighters will retire and how Russian troops will retreat to control all this.
The ceasefire was extended until next week, the Turkish offensive will probably not continue thereafter: "At this time, there is no further need to carry out a new operation outside the existing operational area," said the Turkish Foreign Ministry. But Turkey is sticking to its goal of keeping Kurdish fighters out of the entire Turkish-Syrian border. She regards the YPG as a terrorist organization.
"After the agreement of Sochi it has become even less likely that Russia and Turkey let other troops into the area," said the SPD foreign politician Nils Schmid the Handelsblatt. The positive thing is that "there is at least a truce now". In the matter, the SPD is ready to discuss a UN mission. Only this will become increasingly unrealistic given the facts on the ground.
Kramp-Karrenbauer announced on Monday evening that he wanted to promote an international protection zone on the northern Syrian border at the NATO defense ministers' meeting on Thursday in Brussels. She had informed Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) shortly before the publication of her project via text message, triggering a coalition crisis. Maas and the SPD accused her of dilettantism. The SPD is particularly annoyed because the CDU leader had not announced her plans to the coalition committee on Sunday evening.
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said that opinion-forming is not yet complete. "The Chancellor finds it true that Germany and Europe are engaged in a conflict that takes place right in front of our European doorstep and that has a strong impact on our interests, our security, more actively involved," he said. At the same time, however, "government action is always based on the agreement of the government partners."
Blue helmet use as in Mali
In the foreign office, there was no such agreement on Wednesday. Minister of State Niels Annen (SPD) even feared that Europeans could involuntarily "become a supporting force for Russian politics in Northeast Syria".
On Wednesday Kramp-Karrenbauer concretized in front of the defense committee of the Bundestag their plan: Imagine a UN construction helmet mission similar to Mali. Combat troops should also be involved, participants in the meeting reported. The area could be divided into protection zones, similar to those in Afghanistan, from which the Bundeswehr could then take over the leadership role. Further details, such as the necessary troop size, they did not call accordingly. "About commonplaces, all this did not go out," criticized Green Defense expert Tobias Lindner. "It seems to me as thoughtful as her desire for an aircraft carrier," he told Handelsblatt.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he spoke to the German Minister of Defense on Tuesday. She had told him her thoughts about how to proceed in northern Syria. "I welcome the fact that NATO allies have proposals for further action and how to find a political solution," said Stoltenberg in Brussels. But above all, he emphasized "the need for a political solution" that absolutely needs to involve local actors. He expects all local stakeholders to comply with international law. All this will be discussed at the meeting of the NATO defense ministers. Stoltenberg did not comment on the content of the proposal.
Russia has full control
In Turkey, the advance Kramp-Karrenbauers has not been noticed. In fact, a transfer of power has taken place on the Syrian border in recent days. When the US troops withdrew, YPG troops were unable to fill the vacuum in the region because of the Turkish military offensive. Even before a stalemate between the two opponents could arise, only Turkey and the US have negotiated a quasi-ceasefire. Afterwards Erdogan and Putin have decided what has long been decided: the full control of the region by Russia and the Syrian state. "The absurdity is that Erdogan has now received what he had agreed with the US after the hasty withdrawal of US troops from the Russians: a security zone in Syria," said Schmid.
What a UN mission can accomplish in this constellation depends, therefore, above all on how much power Russia and Turkey want to give to such a mission. Blue-helmet troops could then secure the Turkish-Syrian border or guard important industrial plants. Even the prisons in which IS terrorists are stationed must be reliably guarded and controlled.
A UN mission says that the military costs of peace enforcement in the region could be transferred to the international community. For Turkey and Russia, military operations are costly. "The idea is not new, only so far failed again," said the Green Lindner. For a Blue Helm mission, Russia and Turkey would have to relinquish control to the United Nations. What exactly the Europeans will demand will therefore be crucial to Putin's approval of the plan.
Union politicians support AKK
Kramp-Karrenbauer's EU counterpart David McAllister, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the European Parliament, and EPP Group foreign policy spokesman Michael Gahler, supported the minister on Wednesday and also called for the establishment of a security zone in northern Syria. "Europe has to get involved in this crisis area on its doorstep. This is also in the interests of the population groups in the region ", they wrote in a statement. They did not want to be alone at the mercy of Assad, Putin and Erdogan. They also demanded that the EU should only release financial aid to Turkey if Erdogan resists international law and the rule of law.
CSU boss Markus Söder also stood behind Kramp-Karrenbauer. Her push was "very, very meaningful and only to be welcomed," said Söder. "It is good if Germany becomes more capable of acting abroad. We feel that there is a situation right in front of our European doorstep that Europe has no say, "he said.
In the Foreign Office, they now want to focus on the constitutional negotiations for Syria, which should begin on 30 October under UN auspices in Geneva. These are "fair for all sections of the population," said SPD foreign policy Schmid and criticized: "The Kurds are not yet sufficiently represented."
More: The defense minister wants a UN mandate for a protection zone in northern Syria. This push in the Syrian issue could usher in a paradigm shift. A comment.
(tagToTranslate) AKK (t) Northern Syria (t) Turkey (t) Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (t) Heiko Maas (t) Germany (t) Ministry of Defense (t) Ministry of Foreign Affairs (t) Foreign Policy with Country (t) International Politics (t ) Military Foreign Service (t) Uno (t) SPD (t) NATO (t) CDU (t) Bundeswehr (t) European People's Party EVP (t) CSU (t) Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (t) Recep Tayyip Erdogan (t) Vladimir Putin (t) Nils Schmid (t) Heiko Maas (t) Jens Stoltenberg (t) Markus Söder (t) Tobias Lindner