Jul 04 2018

Erdoğan adviser warns of U.S.-Russia plans for Syria

A senior adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned against reported plans by the United States and Russia to ensure the survival of the Assad regime in Syria and give power to Kurdish groups in a new security structure.

Media sources close to the government of Bashar Assad say Washington and Moscow are working on a plan to include Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the Syrian army and allow them to oversee the eastern part of the country, said Ilnur Çevik in a regular column for Turkey’s Daily Sabah newspaper.

There are also claims that a YPG official will be given the post of Syria’s oil minister and that the United States will have a permanent presence in Syria’s west, Çevik said.

Turkey invaded northern Syria in January to fight the YPG, a force allied with the United States in the fight against Islamic State (ISIS), but affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an autonomy-seeking armed group in Turkey that’s recognised as terrorist by the United States and European Union.

While supporting the PKK is nothing new for the Assad family – they sheltered its leader Abdullah Ocalan in Damascus before his latter arrest by Turkish forces in Kenya, it is sad to see reports claiming that Washington and Moscow are complicit in this policy, Cevilk said.

“If this is the case, then it is quite clear that the U.S. has had a change of heart and is no longer pushing for a solution in Syria without the Assad regime, which has murdered nearly 1 million of its own citizens,” he said. “Does Washington agree with a solution that disregards the massive opposition in Syria who are against the murderous Assad regime?

“If this is the endgame, then all sides need to address Turkey's legitimate security concerns… The PKK remains a threat to Turkey as it uses the area to launch terrorist attacks targeting Turkish soil. Any solution in Syria must secure all of Turkey's southern borders, not just the area east of the Euphrates.”

Solutions that include the PKK in a future peace for Syria will only lead to further chaos, Çevik said.

“Turkey has brought relative peace to Syria by cooperating with Russia and Iran,” he said. “Astana has been successful in providing this peace and remains the only hope for any future solution to the Syrian issue.”