Turkish parliament approves motion on Syria, Iraq

The Turkish parliament on Tuesday approved a motion to renew authorisation for Turkish troops to enter northern Syria.

The motion has effectively extended the state’s authority to launch cross-border military operations in northern Iraq and Syria for another year, state-run Anadolu news agency said. 

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the main opposition secularist Republican People's Party (CHP) and two other opposition parties, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Good (İYİ) Party backed the motion, Anadolu said.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), it said, voted against the motion.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday announced plans for a unilateral military incursion into Kurdish-held northeastern Syria after expressing dissatisfaction with the implementation of a safe zone it had agreed on together with the United States.

Turkey is looking to clear the border region of the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which controls swathes of northern Syria. Turkey sees the YPG as a security threat due to its links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for over three decades. 

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an umbrella organization dominated by the YPG, has withdrawn from the border area and removed their fortifications in compliance with the safe zone agreement. 

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu eariler on Tuesday had said party will vote in favour of a resolution to renew authorisation for Turkish troops to enter northern Syria.

“We will say ‘yes’, with our hearts burning, so the soldiers there won’t come to harm,” Turkey’s Cumhuriyet newspaper quoted the opposition leader as saying during his party’s weekly parliamentary meeting.

Kılıçdaroğlu said his party had initially objected to Turkey getting involved in Syria, calling the conflict a “Middle Eastern quicksand”.

“We met with the Syrian administration in September 2011 when the crisis broke out,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. “We met with [the Syrian government and opposition] so there would be peace.”

Kılıçdaroğlu expressed CHP’s opposition to Turkey’s involvement on several points, including the material cost of the conflict, allegations of Turkey providing weapons for terrorists in Syria and the ISIS prisoners currently held in SDF-run camps.

“Are we watchmen of terrorists?” Kılıçdaroğlu asked.

“We have cultural, faith and family bonds. We can come together with Syria, Iraq and Iran to turn the Middle East into a basin of peace,” the CHP leader added. 

The CHP had organised an international conference on Syria on Sept. 28, and the final declaration to come out of the conference had urged Turkey to immediately end its support for “jihadist organisations and armed rebels operating under different names in Syria.”

"Constantly attempting to increase its military presence in Syria instead of reducing it leaves Turkey with multiple security threats,” the declaration had said, and that “aiming to increase Turkey's negotiation power on the table by expanding its military presence is a dangerous delusion.”

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