Not Turkey, but US should change its Syrian policy: Erdoğan
Akif Beki - Aboard TC-TUR
A rebel fighter is seen through a hole in a wall as he takes a position in the old city of Aleppo on Jan. 26. REUTERS/Jalal Al-MamoTurkey is not going to make any changes to its Syria policy, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has vowed, saying he hopes it will be the United States that revises its policies on the issue.
“Our policy toward Syria is well-known, we should say it openly. We are not thinking of making any changes to it. Our target is the regime,” Erdoğan told journalists returning from his official trip to Africa on Jan. 25.
Regarding disagreements between Turkey and the United States over Syria, the president stressed that he had made clear to both U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden that three things should be resolved, including the establishment of security zones inside Syria, the declaration of a no-fly zone, and the launch of a train and equip operation.
Criticizing Washigton for no longer targeting the al-Assad regime, Erdoğan suggested that the negative course of developments in Syria, particularly around Aleppo, would bring about the birth of what he called the "second Iraq."
“It’s not possible for us to accept this. I am aware of the weight on Turkey's shoulders. We have to protect our position,” he said.
The focus of the U.S. and other Western partners on the Kurdish town of Kobane, and the lack of attention to what is happening in Aleppo is "meaningful," Erdoğan also stated, recalling that the U.S.'s attempt to supply weapons to Kurdish fighters in northern Syria had failed after this ammunition mistakenly fell into the hands of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadists.
“We told them, ‘Don’t airdrop these arms, it will be a mistake.’ Despite our warnings, unfortunately, three C-130 [cargo planes] airdropped these weapons and half of them went to DEASH [the Arabic acronym for ISIL]. So who is feeding DEASH?” he said.
'10 percent threshold important to Turkey’s stability'
Meanwhile, Erdoğan also touched on the Peoples’ Democratic Party's (HDP) intention to run in the upcoming elections as a party, rather than as independent candidates, in a bid to pass the 10 percent threshold needed to join parliament.
He criticized HDP officials, particularly HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, for "not behaving honestly" and even for "lying."
“The 10 percent threshold is important for the stability of our country. A change on it is out of the question,” he said, adding that the HDP cannot make a change in the threshold a condition for the continuation of the peace process.
'Gülen movement schools to be closed'
An important item on the agenda during Erdoğan’s visit to African countries was the schools affiliated to the movement of Fethullah Gülen, and the president's request from his interlocutors for the termination of their services. Erdoğan said he had received "positive replies" to his requests.
He said Ethiopian officials were positive in their responses and the Gülen movement had no strong presence in Djibouti.
Erdoğan and the government have launched a massive operation against the Gülen community, a religious community led by Fethullah Gülen, who is in self-exile in the U.S., which they call the “parallel structure” aiming to topple the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The Gülen movement has schools and other institutions in nearly 100 countries.