The Manbij Military Council (MMC) will not be withdrawing its forces from the city of Manbij anytime soon according to its representatives. Presently,  the MMC are standing shoulder to shoulder with U.S. led coalition troops as the Turkish military continues to threaten an advance. However, the U.S. and Turkey are also pursuing a diplomatic solution concurrently.

Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mevlut Cavusoglu told press this week that,

There are concrete steps in this road map and these are connected to a concrete calendar. The concrete steps are: YPG will be expelled from there and then Turkey and the U.S. will decide what administration and security force will replace the YPG.”

If this information is correct, it’s hard to say how the YPG and SDF will respond should they be forced to withdraw.

The Manbij Military Council was organized and formed through the YPG and they in turn have alleged connection to the PKK; a group that Turkey is attempting to eliminate. While the PYD governs the northern Syria region of Rojava, the MMC and YPG both fall under the umbrella of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who are the right hand of the U.S. and coalition forces in Syria. Turkey has threatened military action against Manbij because of these connections but also has not executed any yet due to the heavy coalition presence there. Now the U.S. is in a position of attempting to remain diplomatic and avert conflict between its allies.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu went on to claim that 90 percent of the city’s citizens were of Arab descent and only 2 percent were Kurdish; because of this he believes the “Kurds’ share in administration should be no more than two percent.” He added that should the model of government they setup for the region be “successful,” then it will be repeated in the other YPG controlled territories such as Raqqa and Kobane. It comes as little surprise that Turkey had no intention of stopping their “anti-terrorism” campaign with just Afrin and Manbij. Cavusoglu went on to say that the U.S. intends to “cut the connection between YPG and Qandil,” in reference to the headquarters of the PKK located in Iraqi-Kurdistan’s mountains.

MMC spokesman, Shervan Derwish, told local media that, “Many people want to harm the security and stability in the region, therefore they publish such news.” He also mentioned that a U.S. led delegation had just visited Manbij and expressed their continued support of the council, claiming that they had not yet come to an agreement with Turkey regarding the city’s standing; this was confirmed by U.S. State Department spokesman Heather Nauert as well. Nauret told press this week that the Turkey and the U.S. had “outlined the contours of a roadmap for further cooperation, and that includes on Manbij,” and that talks were still ongoing.

Featured image: United States special operations forces in a village near Manbij, acting as advisors to the Syrian Democratic Forces and as peacekeepers to deter Turkey from further attacks. By Mahmoud Bali (VOA) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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