Wednesday

14th Apr 2021

Turkey and Nato meet, plan IS-free zone

  • Turkish authorities have detained over 1,000 people suspected of being affiliated with outlawed groups (Photo: nato.int)

Turkey is asserting its military strength against the Islamic State (IS) and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) amid leaked plans to create a jihadist-free buffer zone in Syria.

On Tuesday (28 July), Turkey and its 27 Nato allies are holding emergency talks in Brussels to discuss Ankara’s recent forays against the Islamic militants in Syria and PKK positions in northern Iraq.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Senior US officials say Turkey and US forces have agreed to push out Islamic State fighters in a zone in northern Syria along the border with Turkey.

The Washington Post reports the “safe zone” would stretch over 100 km west of the Euphrates River and into Aleppo province. The Syrian opposition would then take over.

“The goal is to establish an ISIL-free zone and ensure greater security and stability along Turkey’s border with Syria,” a US official told the paper.

Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu over the weekend said people who have been displaced could then return to the zone.

Turkey hosts around 1.8 million Syrian refugees.

The plans are likely to be discussed at Tuesday’s Nato ministerial meeting.

Article 4

Ankara had invoked article 4 of the Nato treaty, used whenever a member feels threatened, following last week’s deadly bombing of some 30 young Kurds near the border town of Suruc.

“Turkey requested the meeting in view of the seriousness of the situation after the heinous terrorist attacks in recent days”, said Nato in a statement.

The secular PKK, for its part, has accused the Turkish authorities of colluding with IS in the bombing attack and retaliated by killing two Turkish police officers.

Ankara disputes this and says it is working against the jihadist group.

According to the prime minister’s office, authorities last year screened more than 4,500 foreign suspects wanting to join IS in Syria, denying entry to around 1,000 and deporting at least 600.

But the bombing has intensified a nation-wide crackdown on people Ankara views as a threat to its national security.

As of Monday, authorities in the country detained over 1,000 people they said were affiliated with the PKK, the Islamic State and other leftist movements in operations carried out in 34 Turkish cities.

Over the weekend, Turkish jet fighters hit PKK military targets in Iraq and, for the first time, Islamic state targets in Syria.

On Monday, it bombed a Kurdish village, provoking an outcry from the minority group whose Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) are on the frontline against the Islamic state.

The YPG accuse Turkey of also targeting its fighters and the Free Syria Army in Syria.

They say Turkey fired seven tank rounds on a Kurd and opposition-held town near the border and that they were also attacked as they laid siege to Isis-held positions in Jarabulus.

"We urge #Turkey leadership to halt this aggression and to follow international guidelines”, Rojava Defense Units said in a tweet.

Turkey denies the attack was deliberate.

Turkey's prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, for his part, on Monday said they would continue to target the PKK despite its opposition to Islamic militants.

The US and Nato’s secretary general back Ankara’s crackdown on the outlawed PKK.

Turkey requests emergency Nato meeting on Syria

Turkey's two-pronged assault against Islamic state fighters in Syria and Kurdish militants in Iraq risks escalating conflict in a region long embroiled with violence.

Opinion

Turkey's dangerous gambit

The statement issued by the North Atlantic Council on Tuesday said little but was still unable to hide the disunity within Nato.

News in Brief

  1. Michel pledges to protect von der Leyen's 'dignity' in future
  2. Libya frees UN-sanctioned human trafficker
  3. European court: jailed Turkish writer's rights violated
  4. EU set to miss 1m electric charging points by 2025 target
  5. Lavrov expects Iran nuclear deal to be saved
  6. France suspends flights from Brazil due to Covid variant
  7. Johnson & Johnson delays roll-out of vaccine in EU
  8. German government agrees nationwide pandemic law

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. Nato and US urge Russia to back off on Ukraine
  2. Future EU platform seeks to 'stay clean' of hate speech
  3. Denmark threatens Syria deportations amid EU concerns
  4. MEPs raise concerns on vaccine 'travel certificates'
  5. Will Romania be EU's Green Deal laggard?
  6. Muslims, Ramadan, and myths facing 'European civilisation'
  7. Europe & Africa - rebuilding the future
  8. How the pandemic became an EU goldmine for crime

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us