CHP to engage both Syrian opposition, regime

CHP to engage both Syrian opposition, regime

CHP to engage both Syrian opposition, regime

DHA photo

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) has outlined a prospective foreign policy that would engage both “the Syrian administration” and “the Syrian opposition” in a departure from the Turkish government’s current course.

“We will not take sides in the ongoing war in Syria,” the CHP said in its election manifesto, which was announced by leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Sept. 30.

“While maintaining our relations with the Syrian opposition, we will also pursue contact with the Syrian administration,” said the CHP.

The social democrat party also pledged to end the largely shambolic “train-and-equip program” which involves U.S.-led efforts to train a moderate rebel force to take on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and counter other extremist militants in Syria.

“We will cease the train-and-equip program which is against international law and neighborhood relations,” said the manifesto. 

As recently as Sept. 29, the Pentagon said it had suspended bringing moderate rebels from Syria to participate in its troubled train-and-equip program in Turkey and Jordan.

The training mission has come under fire after it got off to a disastrous start, leaving defense officials scrambling to salvage something from the $500 million program. The U.S. administration is also weighing a proposal to scale back the program, U.S. officials said after reports of newly trained fighters either being killed by al-Nusra or joining the jihadist group along with internationally supplied equipment.

The CHP also touched upon a long-standing demand floated by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to create safe zones in northern Syria.

The safe zones would be created “only with consent from the Syrian administration and support from the coalition forces,” the party said.

The CHP vowed to block the flow of foreign fighters from Turkey’s territories into Iraq and Syria, saying Turkey would no longer be used as a “springboard by terrorists.”

“We will effectively fight through legal ways against internal components who mediate the flow,” it said, pledging to fulfill obligations under international treaties. “We will prevent Turkey’s being cited as a country lending support to terror.” 

International conference for refugees

The CHP also used the term “refugee” for Syrians who fled from violence in their country to Turkey. The Syrians in Turkey are legally called “guests” but not “refugees” in line with Turkey’s geographical limitation in the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees as a signatory. Accordingly, Turkey grants refugee status and the right to asylum only to “persons who have become refugees as a result of events occurring in Europe,” while persons from outside of Europe are assessed in cooperation with the UNHCR.

All needs of Syrians such as education, health and housing will be met, the CHP said, noting that it planned to call for an international conference on Syrians under the roof of the United Nations with the participation of Jordan and Lebanon, which also host huge numbers of Syrians. 

The party pledged not to adopt “sectarian policies,” while also saying it would upgrade diplomatic relations with Egypt, Israel and Syria where Turkey is currently not represented at the ambassadorial level.