No Turkish-US agreement on no-fly zone, but Ankara in line with Gulf: Erdoğan

No Turkish-US agreement on no-fly zone, but Ankara in line with Gulf: Erdoğan

No Turkish-US agreement on no-fly zone, but Ankara in line with Gulf: Erdoğan

AP Photo

Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have agreed on the necessity to enforce a safe zone and a no-fly zone in Syria despite the absence of such an agreement with the US administration, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said.

However, Turkey and the United States “have not reached a mutual agreement on a no-fly zone and safe haven,” Erdoğan said in a televised interview late on May 26, noting that steps should be taken to rectify the matter.

“The agreement between Turkey and the US on training and equipping the moderate Syrian opposition has started,” the president said but added that differences still remained between Ankara and Washington about Syria. 

The president cited disagreements between Republicans and Democrats in the US and said some of them fully agreed with Turkey’s views, while others did not. 

Turkey has to pull itself up by its own bootstraps, Erdoğan said, citing the direct and thorny impacts of being a neighbor to Syria as a key difference of the country from other countries also involved in the issue, such as Iran and Russia.

However, Turkey is a member of NATO, and the US, as a NATO ally, has a duty derived from the terms of the alliance, he said. 

Turkey and Saudi Arabia have long been in cooperation on the Syrian crisis, but there are no new elements regarding that effort, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said May 8, elaborating on recent media reports claiming the reaching of a new deal between the two countries.

Media reports suggested that Turkey and Saudi Arabia had agreed on a pact for logistical and financial support to help rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In response, Bilgiç said the two countries’ views overlapped on the Syrian case, with long-continued cooperation on the issue.

Turkish officials have confirmed that Turkey forged an alliance with Saudi Arabia to help rebels fighting al-Assad’s government, AP reported on May 7.

The pact, which provides rebels logistical and financial support, is a concern for a US administration wary of empowering radical Islamist groups in Syria. Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been at odds over how to deal with al-Assad, their common enemy. But mutual frustration with what they consider American indecision has brought the two together in a strategic alliance that is driving recent rebel gains in northern Syria, AP quoted Turkish officials as saying.

“The region is in need of change,” Reuters quoted a senior member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as saying. “Following the change in leadership in Riyadh, Turkey and Saudi Arabia will push to overcome regional conflicts. A new framework is being formulated.”