How safe, a safe zone?


US President Donald Trump said last week that he “will absolutely do safe zones in Syria”, intended to protect the displaced, vulnerable Syrians and, presumably, put an end to the flow of refugees to the West, the US included.

The departments of state and defence are now tasked with coming up with details and officials with producing “a plan to provide safe areas in Syria and in the surrounding region” within three months.

Russia was not consulted on this US plan of action and, suspicious of the ulterior motives — read, regime change — Thursday said that “Washington must think about the potential consequences of establishing safe zones.”

Establishing safe havens in Syria is no Trump brainchild. It was long ago suggested by Turkey, but found no support from former US president Barack Obama.

Now, once again, Trump picked up the idea and made his policy announcement about it last week. 

Safe zones, not too safe as history shows, most chillingly in Srebrenica during the former Yugoslavia war, are no easy endeavour.

They need the protection of both ground and air forces, the latter by the imposition of no-fly zones, and that needs minute planning and considerable resources if the idea is to work. 

Then, would such safe zones be created through the United Nations and in agreement with other countries (chiefly Russia and Syria) or would they be a unilateral move?

If the latter, given the Russian presence and the hostility of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, that would require a significant number of US military forces.

Will Trump commit more troops to the ground or get embroiled in another Middle East war front?

Jordan welcomes any move to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian refugees and contribute to the settlement of the Syrian conflict, now in its sixth year, said Minister of State for Media Affairs and Government Spokesperson Mohammad Momani on Sunday. 

He did not specifically endorse the US safe zones idea, but his words implied support, in principle at least.

Categories: Arab World, Syria, The Muslim Times

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