Turkish PM Davutoğlu: Only people can defeat ISIL, not air strikes

Turkish PM Davutoğlu: Only people can defeat ISIL, not air strikes

Turkish PM Davutoğlu: Only people can defeat ISIL, not air strikes

'There is a need for a security force which will protect the Syrian people against both ISIL and the regime,' Davutoğlu said in the interview published Oct. 12 in daily Milliyet. AA Photo

Turkey’s prime minister has warned against the supposed risk of popularizing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) among the people of Syria, by having the Syrian regime involved in a planned military battle against the jihadists.

Amid growing pressure on Ankara to join the military fight against ISIL, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu sounded bitter when he maintained that time had proven their policies correct in regards to both Iraq and Syria, even if the policies were attacked at the time. Davutoğlu also made a point of prioritizing the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad’s government in remarks published Oct. 12.

“Our position regarding the Syrian opposition is already obvious,” Davutoğlu said when reminded in an interview about a statement by the United States which said Turkey had agreed to support efforts to train and equip the Syrian opposition.

“We more or less see what is happening on the ground and are making accurate analyses. This training and equipping activity is a delayed one,” Davutoğlu said in the interview published in daily Yeni Şafak.

“Frankly speaking, if the United States, the Western countries and Friends of Syria Group had two years ago arrived at the point that they have arrived at today and the moderate opposition had been supported, today, ISIL would not have had a space to use and the regime would not have the power to commit massacres,” he said.

“I don’t see any other way,” Davutoğlu said when asked whether a recent consensus among allies could pave the way for the moderate opposition through air strikes.

“Here is our conviction: in Mosul, in northern Iraq, in Sunni regions of Iraq and Syria, it is only the people who can stop ISIL. Or else, if you try to do it via the regime, then ISIL’s attraction will rise, because Sunnis will ally with ISIL since they will give up hoping for an alternative [administration]. Syrian people will not stand by al-Assad anymore,” he said, in remarks elaborating on what he sees as the unique way of stabilizing Syria.

“The same goes for Iraq; Mosul can now be saved only by the people of Mosul. Any attempt by the Iraqi army to save Mosul is pushing Mosul’s people to ISIL’s side. Actions which are solely based on foreign forces are even less capable because ISIL is gaining power because of anti-American, anti-Western and anti-foreign intervention sentiments. The opposition should be trained and this thesis of ours is not a new one. That is to say, Aleppo will be saved by Aleppo’s people, Idlib will be saved by Idlib’s people and then they will all together build a new Syria,” said Davutoğlu, who acted as foreign minister from 2009 until taking over his current post in late August.

Over the weekend, a top Syrian opposition member echoed Davutoğlu. Hadi al-Bahra, chairman of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, said arming the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) was the only way to defeat terrorism.

“The Western-Arab coalition cannot do its task if it only fights ISIL and does not get rid of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which is the cause of terrorism,” al-Bahra was quoted as saying during a meeting in Istanbul on Oct. 11.