Main opposition leader to name former Turkish envoy to Iraq as chief advisor
After serving as Turkey’s special representative for Iraq from 2007 to 2009, Murat Özçelik served as Turkey’s ambassador in Baghdad until October 2011, when he was appointed as the head of Undersecretariat of Public Order and Security.Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has revealed plans to name a former veteran diplomat as his chief advisor, as Turkey is expected to play a central role in the U.S.-led coalition to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
CHP party delegates did not elect Murat Özçelik, Turkey’s former ambassador to Iraq and the former chief of the Undersecretariat of Public Order and Security, as a member of the Party Assembly during last week’s convention, and Kılıçdaroğlu expressed his disappointment in an interview with daily Cumhuriyet.
“Politics is something different. Sometimes expectations are met and sometimes not. It would have been very good if [Özçelik] was elected,” he said in the interview, published Sept. 10.
Kılıçdaroğlu said he would “make use” of Özçelik as chief adviser for foreign policy. “Additionally, I will continue making use of both Faruk Bey and Osman Bey,” he noted, referring to two senior foreign affairs executives of the party, veteran retired diplomats Deputy Chair Faruk Loğoğlu and Istanbul deputy Osman Korutürk.
Loğoğlu, who also served as the Foreign Ministry’s undersecretary in the early 2000s, was not nominated by Kılıçdaroğlu for the Party Assembly during the extraordinary convention. Özçelik was nominated to the Party Assembly with Kılıçdaroğlu’s support, but he was unable to receive enough votes.
The CHP leader announced Özçelik’s new post in the party soon after he announced that the CHP would not object to participating in a coalition battling jihadist militants in neighboring countries.
“We would not object to Turkey’s participation in an international operation launched against ISIL. It is an important decision for Turkey’s future … Turkey is already a part of the Western alliance,” Kılıçdaroğlu told reporters on Sept. 9.
Özçelik is known for his in-depth knowledge of and experience in Iraq affairs and the Kurdish issue. After serving as Turkey’s special representative for Iraq from 2007 to 2009, he served as Turkey’s ambassador in Baghdad until October 2011, when he was appointed as the head of Undersecretariat of Public Order and Security.
In May 2012, he resigned from his post at the key institution, which has played a central role in the government-led resolution and peace process to end the three-decade-long conflict between Turkey’s security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). At the time, the experienced diplomat reportedly said “there were no appropriate conditions left for him to continue in his position.” After this, he retired from the Foreign Ministry.
In a recent interview, Özçelik indicated his unease with the government’s inclination to conduct foreign policy along ethnic and sectarian lines.
“The events in the region show that Turkey is pursuing an ‘Arabist’ policy in Syria. Turkey’s main policy should be helping the people repressed by autocratic regimes in the region,” he said.