According to a senior Turkish official, the former Syrian defense minister, Ali Habib, came to Ankara two days ago and Turkish authorities and Habib discussed the establishment of an 'post-Assad transition process' with regard to the Syrian war
During the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) parliamentary group meeting last Tuesday Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said: "I am sure we will return our relations with Syria to normal," which left some people confused.
After Israel fulfilled most of Ankara's conditions in June, Turkey made peace with Israel, which raided the Mavi Marmara vessel in the Gaza-bound flotilla, killed 10 Turkish nationals.
On the same day in June, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin expressing "sorrow" for Turkey downing the Russian fighter jet, to start bringing relations with Russia back on track. Is it now time for Turkey to reconcile with Syria?
Senior Foreign Ministry sources that I interviewed say such a rapprochement will not occur. Likewise, presidential sources confirm that were it not for Bashar Assad's totalitarian policies and all-out slaughter, radical groups like DAESH would not have emerged, saying that the Assad regime can therefore not be regarded as a legitimate addressee for Turkey.
During a Wednesday interview on BBC Hardtalk, Yıldırım said: "As long as Assad is there, the problem will not be solved. It is the attitude of the Assad regime that created DAESH. Our goal is to establish good relations with all our neighbors, including Syria and Iraq. We have normalized our relations with Russia and Israel. I am sure we will normalize our relations with Syria, too. Stability must be brought to Syria and Iraq to succeed in counterterrorism. But, on the one hand we have Assad, and on the other, we have DAESH. We can prefer neither. Both have to go."
As you can see, there is no change in Ankara's perspective on Assad. However, if a formula without Assad is implemented in Syria, it is hoped that Turkey will restore its relations with the Syrian state as a country that has displayed great friendship toward the Syrian people by opening its doors to 3 million refugees.
Meanwhile, according to a senior Turkish official, the former Syrian defense minister, Lieutenant General Ali Habib, came to Ankara from Paris two days ago and Turkish authorities and Habib discussed the establishment of a "post-Assad transition process" with regard to the Syrian civil war.
I have the impression that the only change in Ankara's Syria policy is to make more vigorous efforts to bring stability to its neighboring country with its longest border through a calmer tone and more active diplomacy, instead of giving fiery speeches.
About the author
Hilal Kaplan is a journalist and columnist. Kaplan is also board member of TRT, the national public broadcaster of Turkey.