Four safe zones for Syria?
Russia, Turkey and Iran have agreed on the establishment of four safe zones in Syria. The Assad regime reportedly supports the initiative while the opposition has protested against the involvement of Iran, which it considers a warring party. What impact the zones will have remains unclear, commentators write, and doubt that the plan can be implemented.
Plan doomed to failure
For the pro-government daily Akşam three obstacles stand in the way of the successful establishment of safe zones in Syria:
“The first is that the ceasefire is not of central importance for Iran. Iran still isn't happy with what it has been able to achieve in Syria, and maintains a strong position as a potential troublemaker. The second is that there are differences between what Russia promises on paper and what it actually does. The success of safe zones depends on what action Moscow is ready to take against the Assad regime. The third obstacle is that the US's Syria policy hasn't been able to stop focussing on the [armed Kurdish People's Protection Units] YPG and the PKK. ... However Turkey won't allow any arrangement in which the PKK, which is firmly ensconced in northern Syria, feels invulnerable. Even if safe or de-escalation zones are set up, the PKK terror in northern Syria will remain a target.”
Putin deserves praise for once
Even if Putin has allowed the civil war in Syria to drag on for six years with hundreds of thousands of victims, his efforts to establish safe zones in the country deserve support, The Guardian argues:
“However unpalatable it is to agree with Putin ..., the safe zone concept recognises that the vast majority of Syrians want to remain in Syria, or return to Syria if it is free of tyranny and terror. ... Nobody is under any illusions about the challenges ahead. They will require complete Turkish, Russian, Iranian, US, UK, UN support and agreement, and over a protracted period. ... Significant resources are required for success, but less than involved in housing 5-12 million Syrians elsewhere and allowing the terminal decline of this shattered nation.”