Dialogue needed for resolving Syria question: Erdoğan
Türkiye has always been a part of efforts to resolve the Syrian question, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, stressing the importance of keeping the channels of dialogue open between the states, no matter what the conditions are, in the context of the Syrian civil war.
“First, we need to acknowledge this: Political dialogue or diplomacy cannot be fully cut between the states. This sort of dialogue should always be upheld,” Erdoğan told reporters on his return from Ukraine late on Aug. 18.
Erdoğan was responding to a question on Syria after Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu informed the public opinion about his brief conversation with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad in late 2021. Çavuşoğlu’s statements kicked comments about a potential policy shift in Ankara toward the Assad regime.
“You cannot abandon diplomacy. The whole world has seen how much we need diplomacy. We have always been a part of the solution. We have taken responsibility for the resolution of the Syrian problem. Our objective was regional peace and protection of our country from heavy threats stemming from this crisis,” Erdoğan explained.
To defeat or not to defeat Assad in the course of the Syrian civil war since 2011 was not Ankara’s motivation, the president underlined, drawing attention to the fact that Türkiye was fighting against the terror organizations in northern Syria that pose threat to its borders and citizens.
“Our actions with Russia in Syria, particularly in the east of Euphrates and from eastern Syria to the Mediterranean, are mainly about counterterrorism. We are enduring our anti-terror fight together. One part of this effort is being carried out with Russia, the other part on our own, with our own troops,” Erdoğan said.
“We have no eye on Syria’s lands as the people of Syria are our brothers. Keeping the territorial integrity [of Syria] is also important to us. The regime should comprehend this,” he noted.
Erdoğan recalled that Türkiye is currently hosting around 4 million Syrians but it is not doing so in order to stay continuously “in war” with the regime, adding, “We are doing so because of the bond of faith we have with the Syrian people. The process ahead may be much better.”
Further steps with Syria needed
On a question about the normalization process between Türkiye and Israel, Erdoğan reiterated that politics rules out resentment between the states and that they always have to be in peace. “For instance, [our normalization] with Egypt is not at the desired level, but we want to continue it at the low level with our ministers and to level it up at the highest level in the best way,” the president said, adding “Because the people of Egypt are our brothers. It is not possible for us to stay on bad terms with the people of Egypt. That is why we should restore peace with them as soon as possible.”
On Syria, Erdoğan said, “We should take further steps with Syria. By taking these steps, we can break many plots with our neighbors of the Islamic world in this region.”
US main supporter of terror
On a potential Türkiye’s military operation against the presence of the YPG in Syria, Erdoğan said no one should question Türkiye’s readiness in launching a new offensive.
“That is why we keep saying ‘On one night, suddenly…’ The operation will be done when the right time comes. I should also say this: No one should ask us whether we are ready or not. We are ready for such things. As we are prepared, we are also capable of doing whatever necessary,” he noted.
He blamed the United States for continuing to supply weapons and equipment to the YPG, stressing, “The U.S. can’t say ‘I am not supporting terror.’ The number one force supporting terror in Syria is the U.S. and [anti-ISIL] coalition forces. They did it and heavily continue to do so.”
The U.S. did the same in Iraq and is primarily responsible for instability in this country, the president suggested.