US Ambassador in Turkey: No Decision for a No-Fly Zone Has Been Made
August 17, 2012 • 11:15AM

American Ambassador to Turkey, Frank Ricciardone, poured even more cold water on the notion of establishing a no-fly zone over some or all of Syria, along with buffer zones within the country from which armed opposition forces can operate, during a press conference he held with Turkish media on Aug. 14. Ricciardone, speaking on the heels of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Ankara on Aug. 12, said, in response to a reporter's question, "Issues like a buffer zone or no-fly zones are easy to talk about conceptually but very difficult to realize practically. There are not only legal issues involved but serious practical ones as well. So, I don't wish to mislead you and suggest that we are heading in the direction of establishing those. So please don't take anything I say as indicating that. But these are certainly the kinds of things that we must talk about at an expert level of detail, and we intend to have that talk going on between our two countries. Talking does not imply a commitment to a particular course of action; it means we are trying to prepare against every reasonable contingency that might arise."

The subject came up again, twice more during the discussion. The second time, Ricciardone discarded comparisons to Iraq or Libya, where, in both cases, there were UN resolutions to provide an international legal basis for action. "We are a state of law, as Turkey is, so we will operate under international law in trying to promote this transition," he said. "We'll keep working with the General Assembly and with the Security Council to try to get forthright resolutions by the world community to bring relief to Syria."

The third time the question came up, of establishing a buffer zone and/or a no fly zone, Ricciardone said that while both sides are doing "prudent planning," "No amount of discussion or planning we're doing now should imply a policy decision with respect to security zones or buffer zones or no-fly zones. Okay, there is no— as far as I know, neither your Government nor mine have taken any decisions to establish such zones."