Turkish PM: Shaking hands with al-Assad, Hitler is the same
AA PhotoTurkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on March 17 rubbished suggestions that talks should be held with President Bashar al-Assad, saying that negotiating with the Syrian leader would be no different from shaking hands with Nazi tyrant Adolf Hitler.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a weekend interview that Washington would have to talk with al-Assad eventually if peace was to be forged, in comments that drew a strong rebuke from Ankara, which said there was nothing to negotiate with al-Assad.
“If you sit down and shake hands with al-Assad after all those massacres and despite the chemical weapons that you [the United States] declared a red line, then your hand will be never be erased from history,” Davutoğlu told his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) lawmakers in parliament.
He drew parallels between the Syrian president and Nazi leader Hitler, late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, and Iraq’s toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.
“It makes no difference to shake hands with Hitler or Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic, Saddam, or al-Assad,” he said.
However, just a few hours after Davutoğlu’s statement, the U.S. Embassy to Turkey issued a statement through its Twitter account, underlining that the policies of the United States government have been consistent.
“The [U.S. government] has been consistent. The only solution to the crisis in Syria is a political settlement in keeping with Geneva principles and reaching that political settlement will involve negotiation at some point with representatives of the regime,” the Embassy said in response to Davutoğlu’s accusations that Washington has violated its own red lines in Syria.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on March 16 moved to clarify Kerry’s words, saying that al-Assad would never be part of peace negotiations.
PM welcomes Washington’s denial
Psaki’s statement was welcomed by the Turkish prime minister the next day.
“We welcome that denial. But I call on all Western public opinion, Europe and America. You will have no sincerity if you dare to cooperate with the Syrian or Egyptian regimes by ignoring the democratic demands of the Syrian and Egyptian peoples while at the same time considering democracy and human rights as natural rights when it comes to Europe,” Davutoğlu said.
He also reiterated Turkey’s full support for the Syrian National Council’s (SNC) efforts to oust Bashar al-Assad, underlining that it was important to keep the SNC powerful against Damascus. “The Syrian people have been left between the terror of the al-Assad regime and DAESH [the Arabic acronym of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant],” he said.