Russia and Syria have announced a new agreement that would allow for joint Russian-Turkish patrols and would give some territory to Turkey and other territory to Assad, while Russia would be the new powerbroker in the region:
Richard Engel with NBC News explains:
“The U.S. is not going to be in the same position to be watching over this territory … It will instead be Russia, Turkey, the Assad regime, and in this chaotic transition there is certainly an opportunity for ISIS.” @RichardEngel on the ground in Syria. pic.twitter.com/1IQHuVzJCV
— NBC News NOW (@NBCNewsNow) October 22, 2019
Here’s more from the AP:
Russia and Turkey announced an agreement Tuesday to jointly patrol almost the entire northeastern Syrian border after the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters, cementing the two countries’ power in Syria in the wake of President Donald Trump’s abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces.
Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey announced their agreement after six hours of talks and poring over maps of Syria at the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Under the 10-point deal, Kurdish fighters would have 150 hours starting at noon Wednesday — meaning, until next Tuesday at 6 p.m. — to withdraw from the border.
Russian and Syrian government forces would move into that area immediately to ensure the Kurdish fighters pull back 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the border. Then at the end of the 150 hours, Russian-Turkish patrols would begin along a 10-kilometer (6-mile) wide strip of the border.
Turkey will keep control of the section in the center of the border that it captured in its invasion that began Oct. 9. That is the territory that Kurdish fighters withdrew from under the U.S.-brokered cease-fire. It extends roughly 120 kilometers (75 miles) wide and 30 kilometers (20 miles) deep between the Syrian border towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn.
For the Kurds, a Turkish takeover would mean the crushing of the self-rule they have carved out in the northeast amid Syria’s civil war. They also fear massive demographic change, as Kurdish civilians flee Turkish control and mainly Arab Syrian refugees move in.
The new agreement aims to ease those fears by giving Russia and its ally, the Syrian government, control over much of the area, with the Turkish patrols limited to closer to the border. That may prevent a massive flight of civilians but would be a heavy blow to Kurdish autonomy dreams.
The Russia-Turkey deal goes a considerable way to restoring the control of Moscow’s ally, the Syrian government, across much of the northeast.
Syrian President Bashar Assad has vowed to reunite all the territory under Damascus’ rule. On Tuesday, Assad said he was ready to support any “popular resistance” against Turkey’s invasion.
So it sounds like for now there’s an agreement that will protect the Kurds as long as they stay out of Turkey’s area. There’s another area on the border, Qamishli, that has a lot of Kurds and was not addressed in this agreement. So stay tuned for more on this in the near future…