In early July, just as an international conference on the Islamic State (IS) was underway in the northeastern Syrian city of Amuda, Turkey amassed tanks at the border again, signaling resolve to enter the Kurdish-held territory east of the Euphrates. The rumbles of tanks, however, no longer give anyone the shivers. They are widely seen as Turkey’s way of turning up pressure on Washington as bargaining continues on a planned safe zone along the border. And while threats have become workaday, the field of diplomacy has witnessed a remarkable Kurdish overture.
In his latest visit to Ankara on July 22, Jim Jeffrey, the US special envoy for Syria, may have achieved little, but the Syrian Kurds, it turns out, have conveyed a proposal to Turkey’s intelligence agency as part of indirect contacts mediated by Jeffrey — a proposal that seems to have relieved the Americans and given them room to maneuver against Ankara.
In an interview with Al-Monitor at his headquarters in Hasakah, Mazloum Kobane — the commander in chief of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) whose real name is Ferhat Abdi Sahin — shared details about the safe zone offer and clarified the nature of contacts with Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT).
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