Roadmap for Syria’s Manbij to be outlined at US meeting: Ankara
Serkan Demirtaş – ANKARA
The Turkish and U.S. foreign ministers are expected to outline a road map for Syria’s Manbij province when they meet in Washington on June 4, with Turkey pushing for the withdrawal of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
“On June 4 we may announced a road map with a solid timeline. We will make a joint statement that includes concrete steps on that day. The concrete step is that the YPG will be removed. Turkey and the U.S. will determine together on who will govern and protect the province,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters on his return from Germany late on May 29.
Turkey will monitor the withdrawal of YPG militants “in order to avoid any vacuum being filled by other terror organizations,” Çavuşoğlu added, stating that a local government will be established “based on the demographic structure of Manbij.”
“This is an area where the population is 90 percent made of Arabs. Kurds will be represented in the city management in accordance with their population,” he said.
‘Same plan in Raqqa, Kobane’
The successful implementation of a Manbij plan will lead to Turkey and the U.S. realizing similar activities in different Syrian provinces such as Raqqa and Kobane, Çavuşoğlu added.
“The step we’ll take in Manbij will bring about a reduction in the bilateral tension. It will also create the basis of future steps between the two countries as it will help us to establish confidence,” he said.
He also said he believes the U.S. has been working to cut the link between the YPG and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), whose headquarters are in the Kandil Mountains of northern Iraq.
“I sense that they want to break this tie between the YPG and Kandil,” he said, while adding there remain many questions about how this could be possible and whether the YPG will agree to drop its weapons.
US: No agreement yet
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said on May 29 that there was no any agreements yet with Turkey on the Manbij issue.
“We don’t have any agreements yet with the government of Turkey. We announced previously that the United States and the Turkish working group met ... in Ankara [on May 25],” Nauert said during a daily press briefing.
“We’re continuing to have ongoing conversations regarding Syria and other issues of mutual concern. The two sides then had outlined the contours of a roadmap for further cooperation, and that includes on Manbij,” she added.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency, meanwhile, claimed that to the discussed Manbij plan foresees YPG militants to the west of the Euphrates River leaving the area within one month.
The U.S. and Turkey have agreed on the issue “technically,” the agency said, citing “sources that attended the talks.”