A Turkish military withdrawal from Syria is out of the question and there is little chance the presidents of the two countries will meet in the near future, Orhan Miroğlu, a senior official of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said in an interview with Sputnik that was published on March 18.
Miroğlu told the Russian news agency that the current conditions set by Damascus are not suitable to arrange a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad, adding that such a meeting may be possible after the upcoming general elections in Turkey in May.
“Al-Assad demands Turkey to withdraw from Syrian territory, as a condition for normalizing relations with Turkey. It is not permissible to raise the ceiling of demands in diplomatic relations with the start of the talks, if the negotiating parties intend to reconcile, understand and find a solution to the differences,”the AKP official
During his recent visit to Moscow, Assad stated in an interview with Sputnik that he would not meet Erdogan until Turkey’s “illegal occupation” of Syrian territory was over.
Ankara broke ties with Damascus when the war first broke out in Syria more than a decade ago. Today, it is considered the main backer of rebels there and its military occupies vast parts of the country’s northern region.
Erdogan called for the departure of Assad on multiple occasions early on in the Syrian war, while Assad accused Turkey of supporting terrorism in his country.
Russia has been making efforts to push forward the Turkish-Syrian normalization process for a few months now. Very recently, Iran joined the talks.
Miroğlu said that Assad’s recent demands gives Ankara the right to ask Damascus to end its “support” for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which holds vast parts of Syria’s northern and eastern region.
“The Syrian military runs part of the Syrian territory in cooperation with the People’s Protection Units [the core faction of the SDF]. So, what is the position of the armed organization of the SDF in relation to the Syrian military?”Miroğlu ( a member of the AKP’s Central Decision and Implementation Committee).
When asked by Sputnik if Erdogan would meet Assad in case he won the upcoming elections, Miroğlu said that Ankara will go on with its current foreign policy if this happens.
“If Erdogan wins the presidential elections, we will continue our foreign policy as it is now, but the most important issue is how Turkey will appear after the elections to the world. There are many countries that want to change power in Turkey, especially the United States, part of Europe and some regional players, first and foremost Syrian President Assad,” the AKP official said, adding that a rapprochement with Damascus will not be possible with “the concessions that Assad is demanding.”
The withdrawal of the Turkish army from Syrian territory is out of the question, as long as the relations between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and the Democratic Union Party [the political wing of the SDF] continue,”Miroğlu
Moscow was supposed to host a meeting between senior diplomats from Russia, Turkey, Iran and Syria earlier this week. However, the meeting was canceled due to “technical reasons,” which were likely related to Damascus’s demands.
The Turkish-Syrian normalization process appears to have come to a halt. If no breakthrough is achieved in the next few weeks, the talks may not resume until the elections in Turkey are over. The results of the elections will likely determine the fate of the process.
Source: South Front