Turkey rules out Assad’s bid to run in elections as part of Vienna deal

Turkey rules out Assad’s bid to run in elections as part of Vienna deal

Serkan Demirtaş - ANTALYA
Turkey rules out Assad’s bid to run in elections as part of Vienna deal

DHA photo

Turkey categorically ruled out Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s bid to run for elections after an 18-month political transition period provided by the Vienna agreement, stressing the future of the Syrian leader would be “his personal issue” as the transition was accomplished.

“The issue is when al-Assad is leaving. This will be determined within this transitional period. The new government will be established within six months, [at the] latest on June 30, [2016]. Then an 18-month-long period will begin. Al-Assad’s future will be decided in this period. There are those who voice al-Assad’s bid to run for elections. There is no such option. Al-Assad will leave office at a certain time within this process, as he will transfer all his executive powers to the new government. And he won’t run for elections. Then what will happen to him will be his personal issue,” Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioğlu told reporters, while informing them about the Vienna agreement in Antalya at the G-20 Summit.

The deal reached by key countries in Vienna envisaged a political transition period in Syria beginning Jan. 1, 2016, and ending at the end of 18 months after the completion of elections to be administered by an interim government formed in the first half of 2016.

Russia and Iran, who took part in the meetings in Vienna, had no plans to abandon al-Assad as the Syrian leader, as they said it was up to the Syrian people to decided who they wanted to rule them. Sinirlioğlu, when asked about Russia’s reaction to this idea, said there was no resistance from the Russians.

Although the Turkish minister was firm in not allowing a role for al-Assad in Syria’s future, he admitted there were still blanks that needed to be filled. “There appeared a road map on this but we’ll all see how it will be filled in, how negotiations will be carried out. What is important is that this is a step in the right direction,” he stressed.

Fresh operations against ISIL

After the Paris attacks, the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has earned more urgency and significance, as France pounded terrorist positions in Raqqa, Syria, late Nov. 15. Sinirlioğlu confirmed the coalition could launch fresh operations against ISIL positions but ruled out a potential ground operation into Syria.

“It’s not an option for the Turkish land forces to conduct a cross border operation into Syria. There is no such thing. We have some security measures against ISIL. There could be operations as well, but I can’t give information about their scope now. But I can tell you that the Turkey has no intention to hold a cross border operation in Syria. There is no such need,” he said.

OIC has special responsibility

Another point Sinirlioğlu made was the responsibility of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries, as the perpetrators of extremist attacks, such as the coordinated attack in Paris on Nov. 13 which killed at least 129 people, were exploiting the religion of Islam.

“Because these people who commit such attacks, terrorists are using our religion in the direction of their own understanding. They try to abuse it. We should not allow this. These [attacks] have nothing to do with Islam, a religion, a sect or a nation,” he stated.