Turkish intelligence working on disarmament of radicals in Idlib: Erdoğan
Hande Fırat - NEW YORK
Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) is taking a major role in the implementation of a deal to set up a demilitarized zone in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib and the works being carried out under the deal sealed with Russia are going well, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sept. 26.
“The majority of the burden falls on the shoulders of MİT,” he said, speaking to a group of journalists on his way from New York to Germany, to which he will pay an official visit.
Turkey attaches great importance to the elimination of heavy weaponry of radical groups in Idlib, he noted. Erdoğan reiterated Ankara’s concerns on the possibility of a refugee influx toward Turkish borders if the Syrian regime and Russia conduct a military offensive there.
“Works seem to be taking shape. Some 50,000-60,000 people returned home yesterday. I hope it will continue,” he said.
Turkey had talks with Russia about reconstruction efforts in Syria, Erdoğan said. “We have discussed with Russia,” he said, adding that he will also talk about the issue with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during his visit to Berlin.
“We cannot say something like this at the moment. But there is no such possibility at the moment. We hope it will not happen. These are promises made by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to us,” said the president when asked if the possibility of a bombardment on Idlib was halted.
Turkey will hold a four-way summit with Germany, Russia, and France in Istanbul and the date is yet to be set, he added.
US failed to comply with Manbij road map
The United States has not kept its promise and has not complied with the Manbij issue.
“The U.S. has not complied with the Manbij road map and has certainly not complied with the timetable. The PYD-YPG have not withdrawn from the region. The U.S. has not kept its promise here,” he said.
Erdoğan recalled the timetable that stipulated the withdrawal of the YPG in 90 days. “The U.S. will build fortifications with the terror organization,” he said, referring to the YPG.
When asked about Turkey’s plans east of the Euphrates River, Erdoğan said U.S. fortification is not close to the Turkish border.
“They build it, we will also build it,” he said, referring to the Turkish military reinforcement at the borders of Idlib.
“Iraq, not only Syria, is included in this. We take measures,” Erdoğan said. Although the U.S. is making reinforcements with the YPG, Turkey has already broken that corridor, the president said, recalling Turkey’s deployment in the northern Syrian cities of Afrin and Jarablus.
When asked if Turkey would conduct any joint operation east of the Euphrates, the president said it was not on the agenda at the moment.
“But I cannot say it will not happen. It is better to leave it to time,” he said.
“We will not leave Nicolas Maduro alone,” said Erdoğan, speaking about Venezuela and a possible visit to the country after the G-20 summit.
Did not approach Trump’s table due to Egypt’s Sisi
The U.S. “continues a unilateral and imposing world perspective,” even though Turkey promotes “global peace,” the president said, warning Washington that one cannot establish fair and peaceful world order with the mindset of “I am powerful than I am right.”
“The laughs in the hall when [U.S. President Donald] Trump was talking about the economic situation openly show the participants’ views,” he said.
“We only had a brief talk during the encounter,” said Erdoğan, when asked about their conversation with Trump during a brief talk on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. He noted that U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser Michael Bolton were with him along with the first lady.
“See you,” Trump said to Erdoğan, according to the Turkish president.
“But I did not attend his dinner last night. There was a family photo at these meetings. We were at adjoining tables at the lunch. It was not even a matter of question for me to go that table since the Egyptian President [Abdel Fatah al-] Sisi was at his table,” Erdoğan said, noting they conveyed the situation to U.S. officials as well.
“We had the chance to speak with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov a lot,” he said.
Its sole arm is US Dollars
He will send his book on the issue of U.N. reform to other leaders, and then maybe call on them to Turkey for a symposium, Erdoğan said.
“But many of them have fear. I feel they have fear and wince if they would be speaking against the U.S., Russia or China,” he said, expressing hope that they can give up that fear and assume, embrace the thought that those countries can also be a member of the U.N. Security Council.
The U.S. has “a sole arm. That is the dollar,” he said, adding that the U.S. “has been losing reputation.” An attitude such as cutting aid to Palestinians does not fit an “honorable state,” he said.
When asked about U.S. sanctions against Iran, Erdoğan recalled his meeting with Putin during the NATO Summit over the summer.
“We spoke harshly toward Russia. But he [Putin] is showing us kindness. But I could not stand and tell him ‘we purchase 50 percent of our natural gas from Russia, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Algeria. If we do not buy it, our people will be cold in the winter.’ Turkey’s stance about sanctions has been as clear as before. We will not take a step back on strategic products,” the president said.
Elaborating on a possible alliance with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Erdoğan said they would assess the issue, but his party would not hesitate to run candidates in its powerful polling districts.
“How can I tell my grassroots a candidate will not run in a place where we were the winner?” he said.