31 July 2012 – Tuesday
Turkish main opposition CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu says al-Assad of Syria will go anyway but Erdoğan government should not let Turkey into Middle Eastern quagmire.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has described the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) policy as having “fully collapsed” in Syria, and warned that the government should not to dragTurkey into an armed conflict in the “Middle Eastern quagmire.” However, the CHP believes Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad will eventually be toppled, as any leader resorting to such violence against own people cannot possibly remain in the power.
“The sovereign powers of the West are preparing the ground to getTurkey to enter into Syria for an armed conflict. If Turkey enters, getting out will be very difficult. I’m warning the government about this,” CHPchairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview late Friday.
Kılıçdaroğlu and the CHP have been vocal against the government’s Syria policy from the start of the Syrian people’s revolt against the al-Assad regime. Kılıçdaroğlu’s labeling of the government “the subcontractor of the Western powers” has drawn a particularly strong reaction from the government and particularly from Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
“The AKP’s policy on Syria has fully collapsed. It’s a shortsighted policy and it is influenced by other countries’ policies,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, indirectly criticizing the government for not utilizing the Foreign Ministry, academics and think tanks in formulating policy.
Recalling that Davutoğlu had fiercely reacted when he used the term “subcontractor,” Kılıçdaroğlu said developments in the field had proven this. “All this process confirms what we have said. The introduction of the term ‘Northern Syria’ by the prime minister for example … what is happening there is in fact the implementation of the Arbil protocol [between different Syrian Kurdish groups under the auspices of Massoud Barzani, head of the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government]. How can the prime minister and foreign minister can be unaware of this?”
Kılıçdaroğlu referred to the unification of the 16 different Syrian Kurdish groups under the Syrian Kurdish National Council with the participation of the Kurdistan Democratic Union (PYD), an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Al-Assad drew harsh reactions from Ankara after leaving control of a number of towns to the PYD, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowing to “militarily intervene” in the case of an attack coming from northern Syria. After the developments Erdoğan instructed Davutoğlu to meet Barzani in Arbil next week.
Erdoğan the subject of cartoons in the ME
“What will Barzani do? If he wanted to bring solutions, he would do so for the PKK. This same government was criticizing Barzani earlier. What happened for them to change their position? Barzani said he could not solve the PKK problem. He has long been an advocate for a Kurdish state. Remember, Ms. (Hillary) Clinton (Secretary of State of the U.S.) said maps could be changed in the Middle East. Is our Foreign Ministry unaware of this?” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
“What is the purpose of foreign policy? It is to protect national interests. Has Turkey gained anything out of this so far? No. It has lost. One of its jets was downed with two of its pilots martyred. The statements of the prime minister no longer carry weight in the Middle East. Turkey has missed the train,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
He also criticized Davutoğlu as an “ignorant foreign minister” with no deep knowledge on foreign policy and political history. “I am sorry to say this, but I have to, it is my responsibility as head of the main opposition. No healthy foreign policy can be determined by insulting our diplomats as ‘mon chers,’” he said. “This is a very dramatic picture. Our foreign policy has hit the wall. These are the most fragile moments of our foreign policy … Turkey’s prime minister has become a subject of cartoons in the Arab media.”
‘Assad will go’
When asked whether the fight between Syrian forces and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) could lead to regime change in Syria, Kılıçdaroğlu said he believed al-Assad would go. “He will go if the violence escalates. No government can remain in power by resorting to violence. If you look at the historical process, you see no any power can be sustained in a spiral of violence.”
Responding to criticisms that he has not criticized the al-Assad regime’s massacres enough, Kılıçdaroğlu said the CHP had always defended the Syrian people’s calls for democracy and freedoms, and criticized the massacres of the regime. “We criticized not only the massacres in Syria, but also in Iran and elsewhere. We do not want bloodshed in Syria, but we are also against foreign intervention.”
[HH] No position on a motion
With the rising violence in Syria increasing concerns that Turkey’s security could also be endangered, a possible request from Parliament for the Turkish Armed Forces to enter into Syria is among the scenarios being considered in Ankara. Kılıçdaroğlu said he “should see the developments and on what grounds such request could come to the agenda,” before disclosing the CHP’s current position.
“It’s not easy to say yes or no today. We have to see what will happen next, and in what circumstances they would introduce such a motion … But we cannot accept blindly dragging Turkey into the Middle Eastern quagmire. Turkey’s foreign policy has never been on the side of particular groups in the Middle East. To take a side in a fight is not a foreign policy,” he said.
A rally for peace
Kılıçdaroğlu also revealed there were calls to hold a massive rally to promote peace which could be held in Gaziantep or Kilis in late August after Ramadan.