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article imageOp-Ed: Trump annoys Russia with pledge of Syrian safe zones

By Ken Hanly     Jan 26, 2017 in World
Washington - U.S. president Donald Trump has announced that he will establish "safe zones" within Syria for people fleeing the civil war and terrorism. Earlier statements by Trump suggested he would be less involved in Syria.
By establishing safe zones, the U.S. would become even more involved in Syria. Trump seems completely indifferent to the negative reactions caused by his continuous announcements that appear to have often been made without consultation or without thought of their negative consequences. Trump repeated once again that the U.S. should have taken the oil from Iraq when it pulled out in 2011. This together with his announcement that Muslims from Iraq will be banned from the U.S. for at lest 30 days has fueled anti-U.S. sentiment in Iraq and could place US troops there in danger of attack. He has also told Mexican president Nieto not to come to the U.S. if he wont pay for Trump's planned wall. He might as well of told him not to come. That is what Nieto decided. Now Trump could be starting a direct confrontation with his supposed ally Russia by demanding safe zones in Syria.
The U.S. was invited to attend the Astana peace talks on Syria but Trump did not send anyone. Now without consulting Russia, he told ABC:“I’ll absolutely do safe zones in Syria for the people. I think that Europe has made a tremendous mistake by allowing these millions of people to go into Germany and various other countries. And all you have to do is take a look. It's… it's a disaster what's happening over there. I don't want that to happen here. President Obama and [former Secretaries of State] Hillary Clinton… and [John] Kerry have allowed tens of thousands of people into our country. The FBI is now investigating more people than ever before having to do with terror […] and it's from the group of people that came in. 'm gonna be the president of a safe country. We have enough problems,”
Russian spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov suggested that the U.S. should calculate all the possible consequences noting that the zones could further aggravate the situation for the refugees. He said that Russia had not yet been contacted about the safe zone plan. Apparently, Trump is expected to order the Pentagon and State Department to compile a plan for setting up the safe zones. However, the president did not present any details of his plan at the ABC news conference. A draft order apparently seen by Reuters said: “The Secretary of State, in conjunction with the Secretary of Defense, is directed within 90 days of the date of this order to produce a plan to provide safe areas in Syria and in the surrounding region in which Syrian nationals displaced from their homeland can await firm settlement, such as repatriation or potential third-country resettlement.”
The setting up of the zones will increase U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war and require more air support and even boots on the ground to protect civilians. Apparently the draft has no details as to what might be required or even where they might be. Trump seems to be issuing pronouncements with no thought of what the consequences might be. Perhaps he wants to foster conflict between Turkey and Russia as Turkey has also suggested such zones but with quite different motives. The draft also suggests setting up safe zones in neighboring countries but Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey already have camps housing millions of Syrian refugees.
Turkey is apparently just waiting the outcome of Trump's pledge. Turkish foreign ministry spokesperson, Huseyin Muftuoglu, said: "We have seen the U.S. President's request for conducting a study. What's important is the results of this study and what kind of recommendation will come out." He noted that Turkey had suggested safe zones from the start.
The increased U.S. military presence in Syria as a result of the safe zones also increases the likelihood of accidental clashes with Russian forces operating on behalf of the Syrian regime. Russia urged caution with respect to the safe zone plan and noted it had not been consulted. The safe zone plan is said to be part of the larger directive of protecting the U.S. from terrorism,l the same plan that includes a temporary ban on refugees who are fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Somalia. The directive appears to be more concerned with the security of the U.S. than the needs of Syrian refugees. So far there is no sign of a reset of relations with Russia by Trump.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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