Erdogan chooses trilateral meeting with Russia, Iran to threaten Kurds, Europe, and unilateral action in Syria

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan once again mouthed his favorite tune, namely that the YPG/PYD “terrorist organization” poses the “biggest” threat to Syria, during his meeting with Rouhani and Putin, in Ankara on Monday, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.

“The PKK, and its extension the YPG/PYD, is the biggest threat to Syria’s future. As long as the PKK/PYD presence in the country continues, neither Syria nor our region can find peace,” Erdogan told a news conference after a trilateral meeting on Syria with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani.

Erdogan said the summit was fruitful and led to important decisions towards a political solution in war-torn Syria.

He added that the leaders have the “same sensitivity” on the importance of protecting Syria’s territorial integrity.

Erdogan said Ankara, Moscow, and Tehran stressed that supporting terrorists under the pretext of fighting Daesh (as he calls ISIS) is “unacceptable”. He was likely referring to U.S. support for the YPG/PYD. However, although Rouhani may to a degree agree as he has his own Kurdish dissident problem, it is unlikely that Putin has any such delusions.

Erdogan said Turkey cannot allow a terror corridor along its border with Syria, referring to the YPG/PYD presence there.

He added that Turkey’s main aim is to ensure a “peace corridor” in northern Syria.

Erdogan said the rising tension in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib was one of the main topics of the meeting, mentioning the ongoing land and air operations in the province since April.

He said the attacks caused casualties of almost 1,000 civilians and pushed hundreds of thousands of people to seek shelter in other countries.

Saying Ankara cannot ignore “a new tragedy” affecting 4 million people near its border, Erdogan said such a development would affect not only Turkey but all of Europe.

“We stressed need for concrete measures to ensure the safety of civilians and military personnel of guarantor countries in the field,” Erdogan added.

He said the leaders also discussed ongoing efforts for the establishment of calm in the field, providing conditions needed for the return of the refugees, and finding a lasting solution to the conflict in Syria.

On a committee to draw up a new constitution for Syria, Erdogan said the summit will push the committee to start its work as soon as possible.

He said the countries need to focus on the safe and voluntary return of Syrians to their homeland.

“A peace corridor east of the Euphrates will be a protected port for the refugees. We believe that we can resettle at least 2 million Syrian brothers and sisters, who took refuge in our country, in this region,” Erdogan said.

He added that if the corridor could be expanded to Syria’s Deir Ez-Zor and Raqqa provinces, the number of refugees returning to their country could reach over 3 million.

He also said Turkey is ready to undertake any responsibility for building new residential areas for the Syrians returning home.

Safe zone

Erdogan said that Ankara wants to build residential areas in a 450-kilometer (279-mile) safe zone to be established in northern Syria.

He said if the desired result on the zone is not achieved with the U.S. within two weeks, Turkey will start applying its own action plan.

On Aug. 7, Turkish and U.S. military officials agreed to set up a safe zone in northern Syria and develop a peace corridor to facilitate the movement of displaced Syrians who want to return home. They also agreed to establish a joint operations center.

The agreement also envisaged setting up necessary security measures to address Turkey’s security concerns, including clearing the zone of the YPG/PKK, a group the U.S. has been allied with, despite Erdogan’s ravings.

Erdogan has accused the U.S. of dragging its feet and having a different concept for the safe zone.