Syrian opposition leader: Turkey, US plan to create safe zone a game changer
by Mehmed Cavid Barkçin
ANKARAAug 18, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Mehmed Cavid Barkçin
Aug 18, 2015 12:00 am
Syrian National Coalition (SNC) President Khaled Khoja said the recent increase in diplomatic traffic is due to the belief that Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime is collapsing. Speaking to Al-Jazeera Turk after his recent meeting with Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov, Khoja said that Iran is the de facto decision maker in Syria, not Assad.
Stressing that Ankara's recent initiative to create an Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham- (ISIS) free zone or safe zone near the Turkish border may be a game changer in Syria, Khoja said that the transitional period scenarios could be simulated by a civil administration established in the region with Arab, Kurdish and Turkmen representatives. He said that Kurdish parties other than the Democratic Union Party (PYD) would be included in the administration. "If Syrians reclaim the lands cleansed of ISIS and Assad, we can establish a civil administration that will simulate the transitional period to come." Signifying the importance of a safe zone that is also advocated by Ankara, Khoja said: "The said region, which spans from Jarablus to Afrin, constitutes 5,000 square kilometers of land, almost half of the area of Lebanon. If this region is protected by the Free Syrian Army and a joint administration between Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens is established, it may shift the balance of war in Syria."
Saying that the PYD does not represent Kurds, Khoja added: "The PYD is forcibly controlling regions, especially the al-Qamishli region. However, the PYD is not receiving wide support as it does not follow an inclusive policy." He claimed that many of the Kurds in Syria were not supporting the PYD, and added: "The PYD receives support from only 10 percent to 15 percent of Kurds; many are against the PYD's policies, meaning that they are against the federative vision that the PYD tries to impose."
Khoja asserted that barrel bombings by the regime should be stopped to provide stability to the region. "A no-fly zone should be established. This could either be achieved by international consensus or by providing the necessary equipment to the Free Syrian Army for self-defense," he said. Describing all of the plans proposed by Iran as attempts to bypass the Geneva agreement, Khoja outlined the administration the SNC has envisioned. "We are persistent on establishing a transitional committee that is in total command. Iran and other countries' initiatives are distorting the concepts and proposing a national unity government. However, we are not talking about a government. We advocate a temporary structure that has total control over the country, including the president, which could be negotiated and agreed upon. Yet, as it is against the interests of Iran, Russia and Assad, they are trying to distort the reality of this committee," he said. Khoja also added that they would not accept the involvement of either Assad or any of his subordinates who have committed crimes, and Lavrov was notified of this.
Explaining that Russia has become more flexible on this issue, Khoja said: "Russia is not invested in Assad himself. They will respect a president who is elected by the Syrian people. If the Syrian people agree on a president during the transition, Russia said they will respect this decision. Previously, they were persistent about Assad. However, now they seem to be more flexible."
Khoja claimed that if Iran retreats from Syria, the Assad regime would collapse and said: "Currently, we are fighting against an invasion force."