Assad: A burden on Turco-Russian friendship

Despite the spokespersons’ inflammatory statements, neither Russia nor Iran can forsake the achievements obtained since Astana. Having observed that the process in Geneva was going nowhere, Russia had to approach Turkey and Iran and start seeking a new solution to the Syrian conundrum. Since almost 4 million Syrian citizens are in Turkey and another 3 million in Lebanon and Jordan, Russia ought to be very well aware of the fact that there has to be a regime in Damascus that would make the country amenable to their full return. A “full return” simply means that those refugees who would come back from exile should be able to reclaim their land, business, shops, cars, trucks and citizenship papers as well as their voter registration identification cards. Right? The Syrians need to not only feel safe and secure in their homeland but have access to the full rights and benefits they deserve in their country. Including but not limited to their land titles and retirement benefits, all of their rights and privileges should be restored.

Instead of suggesting solutions that would enable Syrian exiles to willingly go back to their country, the Russian spokespersons with their provocative statements, poison the ambiance the two sides are working in.

 President Vladimir Putin probably knows that a solution to the Syrian problem should have two legs: No. 1, the territorial integrity of Syria and No. 2, a regime that would not be sectarian like Bashar Assad’s. He works for a solution unlike his ambassador in Ankara and the controversial spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Maria Vladimirovna Zakharova.

Answering a question about the assault on Turkish soldiers at the observation points authorized and erected by the Sochi Agreement, Zakharova, in her stereotypical Jewish accent, said that if you are in a country uninvited you should have expected to be fired upon. She appears to be lazy enough to complete her doctorate dissertation on history. If she finished, her studies would allow her to know that Turkey has always been welcome in Syria as in the League of Nations’ referendum on the future of the Ottoman lands. She also did not bother to study the Adana Accord between Turkey and Bashar’s father, Hafez al-Assad.

Let’s say Ms. Zakharova is busy following the upcoming summer fashions in major western capitals, but Ambassador Aleksei Erkhov has sufficient experience to know the nature of Turkey’s involvement in Syria. He has to know that Turkey could not comb out the terrorists and non-terrorist armed factions in Idlib all by itself. The moderate and not-so-moderate armed groups with their families would be confined in Idlib province; and with international help, foreign fighters would be sorted out and sent to their countries. It is not an urgent issue for the future of Syria. Ambassador Erkhov, in his quite unfortunate interview with Sputnik website, says that the Syrian government wants all terrorists out of the country. So does everyone else. But it cannot be the No. 1 priority of Assad or Erkhov while 40% of the country remains under the control of PKK terrorists and their Syrian extensions, the PYD and YPG.

 Oh! Sorry, Mr. Erkhov! The PYD and YPG are not terrorists in Moscow’s book. I keep forgetting that. So, they can occupy the whole eastern part of Syria, including the oil fields under the protection of G.I. Joes. But those Turkish soldiers are in Idlib in accordance with an agreement, under which Mr. Putin’s signature is still wet.

Again, I don’t think those spokespersons faithfully reflect the attitude of the Kremlin, and the Kremlin itself is not able to control the Assad regime in Damascus. Assad is acting like those stinging insects that become more aggressive toward the end of their lifespan.

I think all parties concerned ought to know the Turkish version of this saying: “When a fox’s death comes, he goes towards the lion.”

Source: Daily Sabah

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About the author

Hakki Ocal

Hakki Ocal

Hakkı Öcal is a columnist at both Daily Sabah and Milliyet newspapers, which are based in Istanbul. He is also an advisor to the President of Ibn Haldun University.

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