In an 80-minute interview broadcast on October 24 on Turkey's state-run TRT news network, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan answered questions regarding Turkey's invasion of northeast Syria. He said that: "Those most suitable for that area are the Arabs... Because they are desert regions." He also said that the "safe zone" being established in northeast Syria would be 32 kilometers deep and entirely under Turkish control around Tel Abyad and Ras Al-Ayn, while the areas east and west of this region would be jointly patrolled by Turkish, Russian, and Syrian regime forces. He further said that "There is no area where flights are forbidden for us... Because we have here... a strong cooperation between Russia, Turkey, and Iran." President Erdoğan was interviewed by TRT World Editor-in-Chief Serdar Karagöz, TRT World anchor Andrea Sanke, and TRT anchor Pelin Çift.
Following are excerpts:
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: You may ask this: What is America doing here, [having come] from a distance of 10,000 kilometers? The coalition forces share no border with [the region’s countries]. Germany, France. the U.K. — what are they doing here? Turkey has a 911-kilometer-long border [with Syria], and because of this border, we are constantly being disturbed. Our people are being martyred and injured. We have experienced this. We have been experiencing it for eight and a half years. There will be [a zone of] 32 Kilometers [south of the Turkish-Syrian border]. In the first 10 kilometers, we will have patrols with Russia and [Syrian] regime forces, but in Tel Abyad and Ras Al-Ayn — the 32 kilometers in that area will be entirely under our control.
There is no area where flights are forbidden for us. Why? Because we have here — in connection to the Astana Process — a strong cooperation between Russia, Turkey, and Iran. Anyway, if it were not for this strong cooperation, Idlib would have turned into a lake of blood. The important thing in this gigantic area is to control the accumulation [of land], and to prepare a living experience that is under control there. The people most suitable for that area are the Arabs. These areas are not suitable for the lifestyle of the Kurds.
Pelin Çift: Why is that?
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: Because these are desert regions.