Syria argument raises tension in Davutoğlu’s Parliament briefing

Syria argument raises tension in Davutoğlu’s Parliament briefing

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Syria argument raises tension in Davutoğlu’s Parliament briefing

The discussion occurred as Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu briefed members of the Foreign Affairs Commission yesterday concerning developments in Turkey’s foreign policy at a closed-door meeting, which was dominated by Syria. AA photo

Tension rose between opposition deputies and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu yesterday at Parliament, with the Republican People’s Party (CHP) claiming that Ankara had originally advised Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to share power with the Muslim Brotherhood at the beginning of the country’s crisis.

The discussion occurred as Davutoğlu briefed members of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Commission concerning developments in Turkey’s foreign policy at a closed-door meeting that was dominated by Syria.

CHP lawmaker Refik Eryılmaz said that at a meeting in Damascus, al-Assad told him about the reported proposal, noting that it was impossible because the Muslim Brotherhood was as anathema to Damascus as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is to Ankara.

According to a deputy who participated in the parliamentary briefing, Davutoğlu totally dismissed the allegation and angrily said: “You believe in al-Assad who is the killer of 150,000 of his people, who used chemical weapons against his people. You do not believe the Turkish prime minister. We didn’t even mention the Muslim Brotherhood during our meetings with al-Assad.” 

The opposition also alleged that the Turkish government was supporting al-Qaeda-affiliated groups fighting alongside more moderate opposition groups to topple al-Assad’s government.

'We don't support al-Nusra'

Davutoğlu, however, again claimed that Turkey does not support any al-Qaeda-affiliated group in Syria.

“We don’t support the al-Nusra Front, or al-Qaeda or any terrorist groups in Syria,” Davutoğlu told members of opposition parties yesterday, one of the participating deputies told the Hürriyet Daily News.

His reply came following questions from CHP deputies Osman Korutürk and Eryılmaz about the allegations that Turkey permits arms shipments and the transfer of militants to Syria through its borders, while also providing safe houses for members of al-Qaeda-affiliated groups such as the al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies also criticized the Turkish government for blocking humanitarian aid to Kurdish-populated areas of northern Syria, known as Rojava. 

“If the Syrian regime leaves all its capacities to a certain group [the Democratic Union Party (PYD)] while withdrawing its forces from the region, and if that group [PYD] puts pressure on other Kurdish groups in the region and also fights against the Syrian opposition here, then there is some other agenda,” Davutoğlu said in response to the BDP’s questions, according a participant, implying that the PYD, which also has links with the PKK, supports the Syrian administration.

In reply to a question about Turkey’s decision to start contract talks with a Chinese company for a long-range missile-defense system, the minister reiterated that the government had not made its final decision. 

“We will take into consideration if other companies make new proposals in terms of the criteria we determined: joint production, price and time of delivery. Every cent is important for us,” Davutoğlu told lawmakers, according to another deputy. 

Davutoğu also said the Turkish government was in talks with the Iraqi government for new customs borders between the two countries.