Erdogan seeks friendlier ties with Syria

The New Region

Jul. 06, 2024 • 3 min read
Image of Erdogan seeks friendlier ties with Syria Syrians take part in the funeral procession of a man killed during clashes with Turkish troops, in Afrin in northern Syria on July 2, 2024. (Photo by AAREF WATAD / AFP)

Turkish President sees thaw in relations with Syria as vital to regional security.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday reaffirmed Turkey's commitment to extending a hand of friendship to Syria and highlighted potential diplomatic meetings with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Speaking to reporters on his return from the 24th Summit of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Kazakhstan, Erdogan emphasized the importance of a fair and inclusive social contract for Syria's reconstruction.

Erdogan suggested a possible invitation for Putin and Assad to visit Turkey, which could initiate a new diplomatic process. 

He underscored the necessity of a permanent solution in Syria, stressing the importance of ending instability and combating organizations like the PKK/PYD/YPG. "The calmness that has been achieved recently on the ground can open the door to peace with smart policies and approaches that are far from prejudice and focused on solutions," Erdogan said.

The Turkish leader also addressed recent provocations in Kayseri and northern Syria, stressing that Turkey will not allow chaos or terrorist activities to persist. 

Erdogan praised the rapid intervention of Turkish security forces and the Syrian Interim Government in stabilizing the situations. "Even if such situations occur in our country for a short time, we will not allow them to continue," he asserted.

Erdogan reiterated the significance of Turkey-Syria relations and the importance of cooperation at the highest levels to rebuild Syria. He noted that a prosperous and unified Syria, based on territorial integrity, is essential for the return of millions of displaced Syrians. "We will always stand by a prosperous, one and whole Syria that embraces on the basis of a new social contract that is just, honorable and inclusive," he added.

Regarding ongoing military operations, Erdogan stated that Turkey's actions would be determined by regional developments. 

He mentioned successful operations by Turkish forces against the PKK in northern Syria and Iraq, indicating that joint operations with Iraq remain a possibility. "Our security forces are on the alert. We also make and implement instant decisions according to the size of the threat," Erdogan said.

Erdogan emphasized Turkey's unwavering stance against the establishment of terrorist organizations in the region. "We will not tolerate terrorism. Our relations with our neighbors are good, and we can take these steps at any time in both Iraq and Syria," he stated. 

He also highlighted ongoing diplomatic efforts to address regional instability and promote peace and development.

Iraq has stepped forward to mediate talks between Turkey and Syria, signalling a potential thaw in their strained relations. 

Sources from Ankara and Baghdad confirmed to The New Region that representatives from both governments have agreed to engage in new dialogue, albeit at a security official level rather than at the presidential level.

Turkey's military operations in Syrian territory, targeting Kurdish-led forces such as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and its military backbone, the People’s Defense Units (YPG), have been a longstanding source of tension between Ankara and Damascus.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has justified these operations as necessary to eliminate perceived terrorist threats emanating from Iraq and northern Syria.

The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, operates from mountainous areas in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, leading to frequent Turkish airstrikes that have resulted in civilian casualties. Ankara views the PKK's presence in Iraq as a direct threat to its national security.

Meanwhile, Iraq has positioned itself as a mediator, leveraging its positive relations with neighboring countries to foster constructive dialogue. This diplomatic initiative follows a significant move by Baghdad to categorize the PKK as a security threat and ban its activities within Iraqi borders.

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