Sochi Agreement Syria Map

Sochi Agreement Syria Map

After the more than five-hour meeting in Sochi, the Turkish and Russian presidents announced a wide-scale agreement including the withdrawal of members of the Syrian-Kurdish People`s Protection Units (YPG) and their weapons 30 km from the Turkish border within 150 hours. Oytun Orhan, a Syria expert and coordinator at the Ankara-based Center for Middle East Studies (ORSAM), said that “Turkey`s security problems have been largely resolved by the Sochi agreement.” The Sochi agreement also allows Turkey to return one million Syrian refugees out of the 3.6 million refugees currently living in Turkey in the Tell Abyad/Ras al-Ayn rectangle. Relations with the local Turkish population are strained and have been aggravated by the government`s allegations about the high cost to Turkey, which has taken in so many refugees during the eight years of the Syrian civil war. Their return would help the government at a time of internal political tensions and serious economic problems. Although the opposition sided with Erdogan in a nationalist wave – with the exception of the leftist pro-Kurdish HDP (People`s Democratic Party) which criticized the military intervention – this unity cannot exist and Erdogan will have to restore his prestige after his AKP (Justice and Development Party) lost control of some major cities, including Istanbul and Ankara, in the spring municipal elections. “The mutual agreement reached today is to continue the negotiations,” he said. The Turkish Ministry of Defence confirmed the situation and said in a statement on Wednesday that “given the (Sochi) agreement at this stage, there is no longer any need to commit to a new operation outside the current area of intervention,” indicating that the Turkish armed forces will not go beyond the area currently under control. The invasion forced the Kurds to seek help from the Syrian army to defend the towns they still held. In Kobane, where heavy fighting took place in 2014 and 2015 between the Kurds and ISIS, the YPG and its Arab allies in the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) withdrew to allow Assad`s troops to enter.

In the West, there was outrage at the abandonment of the Kurds by the United States, allies in the fight against Daesh, but nothing was done: Washington`s European partners saw the withdrawal of the United States and France decided to withdraw its troops from northeastern Syria. Trump has denied giving Turkey the go-ahead for attacks, but has sowed confusion with conflicting messages. He threatened Erdogan with severe retaliation, but imposed only minimal sanctions, which he later withdrew. On October 17, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence negotiated a ceasefire between the Turkish military and Kurdish forces. The Sochi agreement confirms the ceasefire on condition that Kurdish troops withdraw from the border area.

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