Turkish government gets OK for military operations in Syria, Iraq

Turkish government gets OK for military operations in Syria, Iraq

Turkish government gets OK for military operations in Syria, Iraq

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A comprehensive motion authorizing the government to deploy the Turkish army into Iraq and Syria and to allow the deployment of foreign troops on Turkish soil was approved Oct. 2 in Parliament, providing the necessary legality for Turkey’s potential contribution to the international coalition’s efforts to destroy jihadists.

The motion, based on Article 92 of the Turkish Constitution, received 298 votes in favor and 98 against.

Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) lawmakers voted in favor of the motion while the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the People’s Democracy Party (HDP) voted against the mandate.

The Iraq-Syria motion gives a green light for the use of Turkish troops in Iraq and Syria, as well as for foreign forces to be deployed on Turkish military bases and to transit through Turkish territory in operations against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants. The mandate to begin tomorrow will last for one year. The government merged two existing motions on Syria and Iraq into one, arguing that the threats and risks posed by terrorist organizations are using both countries’ territories. 

“The threat against Turkey has gained a new dimension. It’s our obligation to take measures against this threat and to protect our citizens in the frame of international law,” Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz told Parliament. Yılmaz cited the efforts of the international coalition to battle against extremist jihadists in Syria and underlined that Turkey was also part of these efforts.

But just hours before the parliamentary session, Yılmaz stressed that the adoption of the motion did not mean that Turkey would take immediate steps in line with the scope of the motion. The three priorities Turkey has already outlined are to establish safe havens inside Syria to provide humanitarian assistance to Syrians in their own country, establish no-fly zones for the protection of these zones and train and provide logistics to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Turkey. Turkey is yet to decide what measures it will take in this framework but it has made it clear that all such potential measures to be carried out with the participation of coalition forces should also target the Syrian government. 

‘Assad is the main source of unrest’

“The main source of ISIL is the Syrian regime,” Yılmaz said, adding that Damascus had increased its oppression against dissidents in the country, committing massacres against its own citizens in various ways. “The developments in Iraq have proven that there is a need of a holistic and comprehensive strategy to respond to the regional clashes and humanitarian tragedy. The region will be dragged into further conflict in the event the international community does not take a decisive step,” he added.

Mehmet Şandır, a deputy parliamentary group leader of the MHP, stressed that they were voting in favor of the motion because of their sensitivity to national causes and security while adding that that did not mean that it approved the ruling party’s foreign policy line. “If there is a possibility of an attack against our country, we should take measures to defend our country,” Şandır said.

CHP: Motion is a battle cry

Akif Hamzaçebi, deputy parliamentary group leader of the CHP, described the motion as a “battle cry” and stressed that it was not aimed at fighting against ISIL but the Bashar al-Assad regime, which could drag Turkey into war with Syria. “Where is ISIL in this motion? Mr. President was caught red-handed yesterday with his address to Parliament as he outlined that their main objective was to topple the regime,” Hamzaçebi said. “We simply do not want to draw Turkey into this fire.”

Faruk Loğoğlu, speaking on behalf of the CHP, termed the point Turkey arrived at a crossroads that would negatively affect the future of Turkey and the region. “This motion is the result of an adventurous foreign policy. And we should all vote against it,” Loğoğlu said.

HDP: Gov’t still supporting ISIL

Ertuğrul Kürkçü, a lawmaker from the HDP, argued that the Turkish government did have any concerns over ISIL’s existence in Iraq and Syria and that the motion was just an attempt to show off on behalf of Turkey for its regional ambitions. “You were bystanders to the ISIL massacres. You had no such issue until Barack Obama targeted ISIL,” Kürkçü said. “You were the ones who supported ISIL, and you are still supporting it.”

Linking the ongoing Kurdish resolution process to the clashes between ISIL and the Syrian Kurds’ Democratic Union Party (PYD) in the Kobane region of northern Syria, Kürkçü said, “If Kobane fails, the resolution process will also fail.”