The worrying precedent of Turkey’s “safe zone”,

Rebecca Barber

Under international law, one country cannot invade another seize territory – yet that appears to have been endorsed. […]

Under international law, one country cannot simply decide it needs a “safe-zone” in another country, and then on that basis invade that other country, seize territory, and claim it’s theirs by virtue of the fact that they’ve seized it. But this is just what Turkey has done. Not only has this flagrant breach of international law gone largely unchallenged by world leaders; worse, it’s been formally endorsed – first by the US in the deal brokered by Vice President Mike Pence in talks with Turkish President Erdogan on 17 October, and secondly by Russia, in its deal with Turkey last Tuesday.

The US and Russia have effectively ratified Turkey’s unilateral and illegal extension of its border, and in the process, as one analyst observed, “brought an end to five years of semi-autonomy carved out by the Kurdish local administration and its military forces”.

To illustrate the range of situations this could give rise to, one commentator has suggested that based on Turkey’s re-writing of international law:

India can now argue that it needs a safe zone in Pakistan to keep extremists away from parts of the border of Kashmir. Pakistan may need to take over parts of Afghanistan to create Turkey-style safe zones. Russia can say that its role in eastern Ukraine is a “safe zone” or peace corridor. Saudi Arabia now likely needs a safe zone in Yemen. The number of safe zones that can be created on the Turkish model may be endless.

Fortunately, one country cannot by a single act simply rewrite international law, however it does illustrate the seriousness of the precedent.  […]

It was bad enough that the US enabled Turkey’s “safe zone” plan in the first place by paving the way for its invasion of north-eastern Syria. The fact that the plan has now been formally endorsed by both the US and Russia conveys a message that international law is irrelevant and that Turkey can do whatever it likes.   Läs artikel