Syria row hits Assembly

Syria row hits Assembly

Syria row hits Assembly

Turkish soldiers are watching over the border with Syria as several armored vehicles and tanks have been deployed to the Turkish southeastern city of Şanlıurfa’s Mürşitpınar border post. In the face of the main opposition’s censure motion against him, Foreign Minister Davutoğlu (inset) defends his handling of the Syrian crisis. DHA photo

Turkish Parliament rejected a motion to censure Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in a tense session Oct. 12 in which the opposition harshly criticized Turkey’s Syria policy.

Davutoğlu rebuffed accusations that Turkey was following a sectarian policy on Syria that favored Sunnis after the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) submitted the censure motion.

“Our foreign policy on the Middle East has never been based on sect. [Moammar] Gadhafi in Libya, [Hosni] Mubarak in Egypt and [Zine El Abidine] Ben Ali in Tunisia, all of whose dictatorial policies we opposed, were Sunni. We oppose [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad because of his persecution of his people, not because of his sect,” Davutoğlu said in an address to Parliament Oct. 12.

The CHP decided to submit the censure motion against Davutoğlu last month after allegations surfaced that Syrian rebel soldiers were being trained in Turkish territory. The Foreign Ministry said the Apaydın refugee camp near Hatay was hosting Syrian soldiers who had defected, but denied training claims.

A previous censure motion against Davutoğlu, also submitted by the CHP, had been rejected on June 6.
It is a “cause of shame” for the opposition, which uses foreign policy for their internal policy interests by submitting two motions in six months, Davutoğlu said.

The foreign minister harshly criticized CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for his severe rhetoric. Kılıçdaroğlu recently called Davutoğlu an “idiot” during a speech in a CHP parliamentary group meeting. Davutoğlu said he would not use the same language as Kılıçdaroğlu had, but that he would file a lawsuit against the CHP leader on charges of libel.

“I will file libel suit against Kılıçdaroğlu for the highest compensation. I will donate this compensation to Syrian children who lost their fathers to the bombs of Bashar al-Assad,” Davutoğlu said.

Davutoğlu also responded to the opposition’s accusation that he was favoring Sunnis in Syria’s crisis in his recent suggestion that Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Shara would be an acceptable official to replace President Bashar al-Assad.

The minister said he had suggested al-Shara to replace al-Assad for a “transitional period” in Syria.

“I suggested Farouq al-Shara as the [leader of] a transitional period in Syria, because he is an experienced figure [in the Syrian regime] and he has no blood on his hands. My suggestion is only for a transitional period. We, as a party who signed the Geneva deal, are discussing with the U.S. and Russia about possible figures who can play a role in this transitional period. Al-Shara’s sect is not important, and we don’t interfere in the administrative matters of other countries. [My suggestion] is only for a transitional period,” Davutoğlu said.

CHP deputy Osman Korutürk, also speaking during the debate, said Turkey was coming to “the last exit before the bridge” in its Syrian policy. “If we miss this exit, we will proceed through uncertainties in foreign policy,” he said.

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy Tuğrul Türkeş said they would vote against the censure motion, saying that they aim to strengthen the government’s hand in foreign policy even though they do not totally agree with the current foreign policy.

The motion was rejected with AKP and MHP votes.