US-Turkey joint operations center buys time for Syria safe zone talks

US delegation arrived in Turkey Monday to set up a joint operations center that will oversee the establishment of a so-called safe zone in Syria. The move follows a recent agreement between US and Turkish officials to address Ankara’s security concerns along its southern border.

Though details of the peace corridor’s size and management protocols remain undetermined, the command center is expected to serve as a conduit for negotiations shaping the future of a region that has long been a friction point in US-Turkish relations.

Deep disagreements remain over the role of Kurdish militants in the Syrian Democratic Forces with which the United States allied to eradicate Islamic State militants from northeast Syria. Turkey, a US NATO ally, sees elements of the SDF as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party, a Kurdish insurgent group designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union that has waged war in Turkey since the 1980s.

With such divisions unlikely to be surmounted in the near-to-medium term, analysts view the establishment of the joint operations center as a mechanism to buy time and stave off a possible third Turkish military incursion into Syria that Ankara officials have been increasingly promoting in recent weeks.

“The United States’ priority was to prevent Turkey from taking unilateral steps,” Washington-based journalist and Kurdish affairs analyst Mutlu Civiroglu told Al-Monitor, noting the parameters of the safe zone can have different interpretations.

Read the full story on Al Monitor: