“If we look at history, safe zones created in mass conflicts were rarely really safe,” says Benchemsi. However, the results of safe zones, experts say, are not optimistic and there are fears that the Turkish plan could threaten the Kurds with ethnic expulsion and cleansing. As in Srebrenica, the bloodshed followed the creation of a safe zone during the 1994 Rwandan civil war. The mass massacre of the Tutsi minority by Hutu extremists triggered a French military intervention supported by the United Nations. A security zone established by the French was supposed to protect displaced civilians. Turkey and the United States, NATO allies, have been deadlocked for months because of the size and command of the area, with Kurdish YPG militias fighting alongside U.S. forces against Islamic State fighters, but which Ankara considers terrorists to pose a serious security threat. “Calling something safe doesn`t do it that way,” said Professor David Keen, author of a paper on the problems of “safe zones,” the BBC. Because the motives behind safe areas are complex, says Stefanie Kappler, professor of conflict resolution at Durham University. Since then, discussions on the establishment of a safe zone are ongoing and until Wednesday, little progress has been made. U.S.
President Donald Trump announced last year that U.S. forces were leaving Syria and began a first withdrawal, a move welcomed by Ankara, and the two NATO allies agreed to create the safe zone. On Tuesday, a U.S. Department of Defense report warned of a revival of Islamic State in northeastern Syria, saying U.S.-backed Kurdish groups are not equipped to deal with jihadist cells reborn without U.S. support. “If such zones are created and protection is not ensured, the results can be catastrophic,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International`s Director of Middle East Research. “The creation of safe zones is rarely purely altruistic,” she says. “Safe zones are often used to protect powerful states from the influx of refugees or to justify the return of asylum seekers to a suspected safe zone. Last September, Turkey and Russia agreed to transform Idlib into a de-escalation zone where aggression is formally prohibited. Turkey also said it should have ultimate authority over the area, another point of divergence with the United States. As these cases show, secure areas have a controversial history.
The results were mixed. Experts agree that good intentions are not always just good results. The main objective is to protect civilians fleeing conflict. HRW defines safe zones as “areas designated by the parties to an armed conflict where the armed forces do not launch or carry out attacks.” The National Security Council, which includes Turkey`s political and military leaders, said late on Monday that Turkey would step up efforts to establish the area so syrian refugees could return as quickly as possible.