A European safe zone for northern Syria?

Germany's Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer called last week for the establishment of an internationally monitored security zone in northern Syria. The zone would serve to keep the conflicting parties separate from each other and ensure adherence to the ceasefire and neutral updates on the situation. The US has refused to take part. Commentators discuss the merits and timing of the initiative.

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Spiegel Online (DE) /

An overdue initiative

At last Germany and Europe are no longer just looking on as events unfold, Spiegel Online observes:

“The goal of the safe zone must be to prevent more Kurds from being driven out of the border region and to set the civil reconstruction process in motion. In addition, the zone is meant to prevent the IS from growing stronger again in the region. Even if the prospects of Kramp-Karrenbauer's initiative being successful are limited, it was right to finally start a discussion about how Germany and Europe can take part in stabilising Syria - beyond the fight against the IS. And it's good that it is finally Germany that is presenting an initiative. It is right to advance the idea that Europe doesn't have to be simply an onlooker in its neighbouring regions.”

Politiken (DK) /

Last chance to assume responsibility

Politiken also sees advantages to the proposal:

“What the European Nato states can offer is to deploy soldiers to protect the rest of the Syrian Kurds against war. They can prevent more civilians from being forced to flee - and offer the area legal protection in the negotiations on the reconstruction of Syria and its new constitution. If the Kurds are to be protected against war and oppression, a system of self-government like that in northern Iraq must be ensured. If we don't want the tragedy in Syria to become a historic failure on Europe's part, this is the last chance to assume the necessary responsibility.”

Hürriyet Daily News (TR) /

Proposal comes far too late

After the Turkish offensive and the agreement with Russia there is no need for a joint security zone anymore, Hürriyet Daily News writes:

“Turkey's deals with the United States on Oct. 17 and with Russia on Oct. 22 have drastically changed the conditions in the Syrian theater, and in fact, it left no need for the presence of an international force. ... If Europeans do really want to take part in these processes, they should better acknowledge the new realities in the Syrian theater and present solid projects for a lasting political solution in Syria and for the reconstruction of the war-torn country.”

Novoye Vremya (UA) /

Nurture the buds of democracy

Russia and China have only authoritarian regimes as partners. The US, by contrast, must strengthen other alliances, writes US Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman in Novoye Vremya:

“Most everyone now understands that we don't have the time, patience, energy or know-how to create democracy in the Middle East. But what we can do and should do is amplify decency wherever we see it in hopes that the islands of decency there might one day connect up and flower into democracy. For instance, Iraqi Kurdistan and the Syrian Kurdish regions, while they have plenty of corruption and tribalism, are nevertheless islands of decency where women tend to be more empowered, Islam is practiced in more moderate forms and Western liberal education is promoted in American-style universities. In walking away from the Syrian Kurds, Trump has weakened their island of decency.”