The establishment of a ‘safe zone’ along Turkey’s southern border with Syria represents a longstanding goal of the Erdogan administration. The plan is motivated by three overriding objectives. First, a safe zone would create space for the repatriation – preferably though not necessarily voluntary – of the millions of Syrian refugees who are currently residing on Turkish soil, and whom are increasingly viewed as a political liability and economic burden ahead of a critical general election next year. Second, a ground-level presence along the border allows the Erdogan administration to take its longstanding fight against regional Kurdish groups to their home turf, eliminating the ability of Syria- and Turkey-based militias to traverse an otherwise porous border region. Third, a Turkish military presence effectively cleaves Syria’s de facto autonomous Kurdish region (‘Rojava’ to the local Kurds) into two, separating the Kurdish-majority Afrin (currently occupied by Turkey) in the west from the heartland in the east and northeast. Before direct Turkish military interventions began in 2016, Ankara was facing the very real prospect of a contiguous and effectively independent Kurdish statelet along the entirety of its southern border – a prospect that has haunted Turkish leaders for as long as the republic has existed.