Whatever it was that happened yesterday in Ankara between the US Vice President and the President of Turkey, it was not a ceasefire agreement.
Who knows what threats were exchanged but you cannot claim to have negotiated a ceasefire agreement (except perhaps by using American logic) by talking to only one side of a dispute in which military forces are engaged. You cannot equally assume that the side you are talking to is actually winning or in a position to win. Or that the other side is in any way obliged to comply with the terms of any one-sided agreement. This is a fatal flaw in Western thinking, born, I suspect, from being used to pushing other people around – a positional bucket that no longer holds water (as you would think they might have somehow learned by now).
I think – and this is only conjecture (so make of it what you will) – that Turkey is finding it a much harder prospect to form a ‘Safe Zone’ than it thought would be the case, having ‘conquered’ only two areas totalling only some 100km by say 25km including only one town of any size (Tal Abiad) plus another (Ras Al Ayn) still in dispute. And this even with all the overwhelming firepower they possess.
Turkey stands no chance of taking Kobani with considerable SAA forces now holding it (even though they still state the intention of doing so). And standing between them and any further progress are the Russians in the form of military police units. Admittedly they could easily brush aside (I assume) such lightly armed police units, but a) would they want to unleash what might follow such action? And b) would they want to jeopardise the commercial and economic benefits of what has become a useful international partnership with Russia?
I think Turkey is hoping that the SDF forces will voluntarily disengage, so they can say that their secondary task in removing the ‘terrorist’ threat from their borders is complete – their primary task of seeing the US leave the field already having been accomplished – and they can start shipping refugees back into the country.
Like I said, this is conjecture, and we will have to wait to see what happens. Though as with most ‘ceasefire agreements’ these days, there may be a lull of only a few hours.
What is not conjecture is that Turkey is pledged to uphold the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of Syria. Which commitment, if it wants to retain any international credibility, it must abide by. Turkey must know that any advances it makes onto Syrian land (with or without Syrian permission) have to be handed back to the Syrian government. With that in mind, why do more, commit more, lose more, spend more, than is absolutely necessary in pursuit of its own personal objectives?