Wesley K. Clark, the retired U.S. Army general and onetime supreme allied commander in Europe for NATO, stated that Turkey will hold one of the most powerful positions in the world in the future because of its geopolitical position between Europe and Asia, waterways, extraordinary culture and great heritage.
"Yet, this also means that Turkey will face exciting challenges that are full of difficulties," the former NATO commander said.
Answering questions by the press during the Atlantic Council Istanbul 2017 Summit, Clark said that parties should proceed step by step to reach a solution in the Syrian crisis.
In addition to this, he indicated that the fight against Daesh should continue, while avoiding civilian casualties.
"When Mosul is saved, the forces will move towards Raqqa and Daesh will lose its regional base," he said, while indicating that saving Mosul will take quite some time.
However, he also highlighted that saving Mosul will not mean that Daesh will come to an end because as long as people prefer to express their ideas through violence, Daesh-like groups will continue to exist.
Regarding the attitudes of the U.S. and Russia in the case of Syria, Clark stated that, although both countries have their own interests in the region, when it comes to Syria, their interests do not converge.
"The political process, establishment of a new government in the regions that were liberated from Daesh and also providing a truce are the ones that should be dealt together," he added, while saying that the U.S. and Russia are not working together and therefore it is hard to determine the right way to deal with the problems.
He also emphasized that if the crisis in Syria continues, instability and violence within the region will continue as well.
"As long as Iran insists on maintaining its influence in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon while the other countries continue to resist its attacks; there will be fighting, meetings and violence."
Evaluating Turkey's position within the Middle East region, the retired general expressed how pleased they are as far as Turkey's membership in NATO is concerned.
He also highlighted the Turkish government's success in being a hosting country for the refugees.
"Some Kurdish groups want to come up with their own state by gaining their independence. This is an issue that will affect Turkey, Iraq and even Iran. On the other hand, if Iran complies with the nuclear deal which it signed two years ago, this would be a cause for relief in both Iran itself and also in the western world. So, Iran would look for a new market for itself. Turkey is a possible short way but it is also a competitive country," he said.
"That is why we can't be sure what will Iran do as far as this issue is concerned. Therefore, Turkey, with its geopolitical position between Europe and Asia, waterways, extraordinary culture and great heritage, has one of the most powerful positions in the world for the future. However, this also means that Turkey will have exciting challenges that are full of many difficulties," he added.
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