Sweden and Finland’s desire to join NATO, which is also in line with the Western will, could be an opportunity for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to obtain political gains for his country before granting approval for their accession to NATO. Turkey is one of NATO’s most important members, given the strength of its army and military arsenal, which has witnessed significant technical development in the last 20 years.
President Erdogan, who said a few days ago in a speech to his justice and development party’s parliamentary bloc in the Turkish parliament, called on NATO to support a safe area in northern Syria, noting that his country had arranged for this area through Turkey’s “democratic and security” operations along the border.
Erdogan reminded NATO of the project to return Syrian refugees to northern Syria, specifically to the border area that the Turkish president wants to make safe and protected internationally. He pointed out that Turkey has been keen to return half a million refugees, and that it is establishing cities in 13 communities or “settlements” to return another million refugees. This is a project that was the main concern in the Syrian issue, and which is mainly Erdogan’s project before he and his party enter the presidential and parliamentary elections next summer.
Erdogan’s remarks came as Finland and Sweden asked to join NATO, which Turkey opposes. Erdogan’s government opposes the two countries’ accession under the pretext that they are supporting organizations designated by Ankara as terrorists, referring to the SDF.
In light of this, and given that the Turkish rejection does not carry radical issues, geographical or direct security, the premise of bartering Turkey’s acceptance of the accession of the two states, in exchange for NATO’s protection of the safe area along the Turkish-Syrian border within Syrian territory, will be possible.
Turkey has long called on NATO and the West to protect a safe area in northern Syria to return Syrian refugees. This demand has always been met with Western and American rejection, given that Syria is not part of NATO territory, and therefore the decision to protect a safe area within it cannot be taken.
Turkey will now benefit from a clause in NATO’s rules of procedure that indicates that all members should agree to any new country joining NATO, which will strengthen its position by imposing its demand for a fait accompli, particularly with recent international developments imposed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the West’s fears of more ambitions for President Putin and Moscow in Europe.
Ankara demands a safe zone in northern Syria, based on the principle of protecting its borders, which are, of course, NATO’s borders, but what can Ankara achieve geographically for the area and borders of this region in northern Syria?
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.