Retired Turkish Military Leaders Try to Push Erdogan for Talks with Syria’s Assad

Retired Turkish Military Leaders Try to Push Erdogan for Talks with Syria’s Assad
Fri Dec 18, 2015 08:56:50

Contrary to what their government is doing, three decorated retired Turkish generals are pushing for talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as part of the efforts to return peace to his war-torn country.

A Turkish military delegation, headed by Ismail Hakki Pekin, former head of the intelligence unit of the Chief of Staff, is scheduled to make a trip to the Syrian capital Damascus on Friday, the highest-level visit ever made by the Turks since Syria was plunged into chaos in March 2011.

The delegation is trying to find a “negotiable” ground for a possible meeting between the Turkish and Syrian authorities, just as the world powers will meet in New York on Friday over how to end the Syrian war in a peaceful way.

“The aim of the visit is to find a negotiable ground where the two sides will work on how they are going to repair their broken relations for the sake of the region,” Pekin told Xinhua in an interview.

Ankara has pursued a policy of seeking al-Assad’s ouster over the past few years, which many have been criticized as a failure.

Soner Polat, a retired rear admiral and member of the military delegation to Damascus, said the retired generals will try to understand the “sensitivities” of the Syrian side and explain Turkey’s perception of threat and policy priorities.

“We will try to establish a balance between our own interest and theirs,” he told Xinhua. “We will try to find a happy medium for a possible meeting.”

Upon their return, they will once again try to persuade the Turkish government to restart talks with al-Assad for the sake of peace in the region, the generals said.

Pekin has urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party to abandon their Syrian policy.

“In case of overthrowing Syrian government of al-Assad, the state structure of Syria would be totally destroyed and Syria would turn into a bloodbath, even worse than today,” he warned.

The generals also argued that the existence of the al-Assad regime in Syria would serve as a guarantee against further expansion of the terror threat posed by the ISIS.

In Pekin's view, Turkey and other countries should primarily respect Syrian territorial integrity, secure the Syrian border and support the central government.

“By securing Syrian border together with Iraqi border, you are going to prevent ISIS to export its terrorism to the rest of the world, to Europe, to Russia and to Far East,” he remarked.

In addition, Pekin criticized US-led coalition forces’ ongoing battle against the ISIS, noting “they think that an effective struggle against terrorism would be possible by using someone else’s territories and someone else’s fighting groups.”

“Each country tries to protect its own interest in the region and get its share,” he explained.

The generals are not optimistic either about the Saudi-led new coalition to combat terrorism, which was announced on Tuesday and comprises 34 Islamic states.

They described the coalition as a “dead-end” which would soon lay bare its shortcomings in bringing peace to the region, as it has been criticized for augmenting the sectarian dimension of the ongoing turmoil.

“If the countries continue to pursue their interests in the region, the war will continue 15 to 20 years more,” Pekin said; Xinhua reported.


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