Ankara: Turkey’s operation is not against Assad’s government

Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu
Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu

Almost a week ago, the Armed Forces of Turkey started attacks on positions of Islamic State in the north of Syria and the PKK in Northern Iraq. Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu states that the operation in the north of Syria is not directed against the government of Bashar Assad. However, he also stresses: “We share the American view that Assad must leave; but we are sure that nobody should be excluded from the process of the Syrian settlement, including Russia and Iran.” Meanwhile, Vladimir Yevseyev, head of a department of the CIS Countries Institute, thinks that the Turkish authorities will have to correct their policy toward Syria.

“Just watch the way Turkey behaves. Terrorist attacks have happened, a military post has been fired at by IS. And whom have the Turks bombed in response? It turns out to be the PKK. So if they attack the PKK, how is this connected directly to IS? I do not understand this logic,” the expert says. Speaking about the establishment of a buffer zone, he notes: “Not everything that the Turkish leadership says is realized. There is a lot of talk on this issue, it is called a no-fly zone. Firstly, a question arises: who will control this area? Will the Turks introduce troops there? I think this is more a desire than a reality. Turkey wants the Americans to do it. The Americans would love it to be done by the Turks. But you know, in such a situation, I am more than confident that neither the Americans nor the Turks will do this. Wishful thinking about the establishment of a buffer zone will probably end in nothing, because in fact this will be an occupation of Syrian territory by a NATO member-state.”

Yevseyev thinks that Ankara always sees a problem in the Kurds: “So they consider their security issues regarding the Kurds. If, for example, IS is fighting the Syrian Kurds, it turns out that this is in Turkey's national interests. In addition, the idea that Assad must leave has not really been disappeared. In these circumstances, I think it's impossible to talk about any participation of Turkey in a real fight against IS in the very near future.”

The expert reminds that a ruling coalition has not been created in Turkey yet: “There is a scenario in which elections are being held again, for example, in November. Here again, there will be an attempt by the Justice and Development Party to gain a majority, but it is not likely to happen. As a result, a ruling coalition will be created eventually, and all the opposition parties will be advocating change in the political course regarding Syria. I think Turkey will probably be forced to adjust its foreign policy towards Syria. And it can create a kind of change for the Syrian people, an additional chance to win the war age terror, victory over these external forces that want to destroy Syria in any way.”

According to Vladimir Yevseyev, all these ideas that some power can change Bashar al-Assad’s regime are complete nonsense: “If, God forbid, there is an overthrow of the government in Damascus, the legal government, we will have Libya in Syria.. And there will be the worst possible course, where the Christians, the Druzes, the Alawites will not be just kicked out, they will be physically destroyed. That is, we are talking about the genocide of the Syrian population. If there was such an understanding, probably those states that are involved in the so-called fight against IS would, probably, behave quite differently. And they would not talk about the creation of a buffer zone, but about how to deal with IS and how to interact with the Syrian leadership in the fight against IS.”