Syrian regime media doubts, underestimates Turkish rapprochement

An old man reads the state-run al-Thawra newspaper - 2016 (cubaislainfinita)

An old man reads the state-run al-Thawra newspaper - 2016 (cubaislainfinita)

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The official and pro-Syrian regime media did not see the statements of Turkish officials on the Turkish-Syrian rapprochement as serious and said that they came within the “media framework” only, despite the fact that the official position of the Syrian regime through its foreign minister was viewed as a prelude to restoring relations to what they were, appreciating the efforts that Russia and Iran are making to repair the relationship between Syria and Turkey.

Official demands

In response to journalists’ questions, Faisal Mekdad said during a press conference he held alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov from Moscow on 23 August that his government is with the Turkish state’s retreat from the supportive role it played alongside the armed groups in northwestern Syria.

The regime’s foreign minister added, “We believe that the effort that should be made in this field to convince the Turkish leadership of the necessity of withdrawing from Syria, restoring security and peace of mind, and the absence of Turkish forces within one millimeter of Syrian soil, is the only way to restore security and stability to Syria.”

Mekdad does not want to set conditions, according to his statement, but considered that “the Turkish occupation of Syria must end, the support that Turkey provides to the armed organizations must end, in addition to the fact that there should not be any interference by Turkey in the internal affairs of Syria,” stressing that these are not conditions, but rather a prelude to restoring relations to the way they were.

Mekdad’s statements followed Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s announcement hours before that his country did not have preconditions for dialogue with the Syrian regime.

The Turkish minister added that dialogue with Damascus should be a goal for his country and pointed out that the unity of Syrian territory, the protection of Turkish borders, and the safe return of Syrian refugees are what his country seeks.

State media underestimates Turkish statements

The local al-Watan newspaper, which is close to the regime, titled in its daily edition on 29 August, “Erdogan seeks to restore relations with Damascus to block his opponents; Ankara’s speech is still media and in the context of words, not actions.”

The newspaper pointed out the conflicting statements between the rapprochement with the regime and the constant threats to launch a military operation to establish a “buffer zone” at a depth of 30 kilometers north of Syrian territory.

The statements of Turkish officials are “test balloons,” and Ankara’s rhetoric toward Damascus has changed, but it is still “in the media and the context of words rather than actions,” the newspaper added.

On 21 August, the state-run al-Thawra newspaper described the policy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as “pragmatism,” which came to “soften the atmosphere after the Tehran summit.”

This description came in response to Erdogan’s statements, during his return from Ukraine, on 19 August, in which he said that Turkey’s concern is not “defeating Assad” but rather reaching a political solution and reaching an agreement between the opposition and the regime.

In turn, the ruling party al-Baath newspaper said on 23 August that any talk about demands and conditions for rapprochement is a kind of verbal chatter, describing the Turkish diplomatic engagement as “naive.”

Multiple interpretations

The government Tishreen newspaper on 23 August attributed the Turkish rapprochement statements to internal and external reasons, starting with the presidential elections next year and the intensification of the strength of the Turkish opposition demanding better relations with Damascus, in addition to the economic crisis that Turkey is experiencing.

The external reason is that firm Iranian and Russian stand against the Turkish president’s intention to intervene militarily in northern Syria, which was evident in the tripartite Tehran summit that brought him together with the Iranian president and his Russian counterpart, in addition to international positions rejecting Turkey’s foreign policy, including the US and Western countries, according to Tishreen.

For its part, the al-Watan newspaper attributed the Turkish rapprochement to “cut off the road” to the Turkish opposition parties, which announced their intention to normalize relations with the Syrian regime as soon as they won the elections and to remove the demand of Syrian refugees’ return as pressure card, which they bargained for to win the favor of those who reject their presence inside Turkey.

While al-Baath considered the Turkish statements of rapprochement came after the fall of the “New Middle East” project, and Turkey’s inability to “lead the Islamic world” after the failure of the “war on Syria,” and that rebuilding the relationship with Syria is “the last way for Turkey to stand back again.”

The local Athr Press network considered that Erdogan pursued a “wrong” foreign policy that made him isolated from his near and far surroundings.

This is what made the majority of Turkish public opinion against his policy, and in an attempt to solve this problem before the presidential elections, it proceeded to normalize with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Israel, and its southern gate remains Syria, added the pro-regime news site.

The recent Turkish military operations on the Syrian regime’s areas in northern Syria, which left dead people, maybe one of the “negotiating tools between the Turkish and Syrian sides,” Athr Press added.

On 22 August, the Arab Writers Union held a symposium entitled The Future of Syrian-Turkish Relations, with the participation of the head of the Syrian-Turkish Friendship Association, Mohammad Yufa, who pointed out the importance of strengthening Syria’s relations with the Turkish people in all its cultural, social and economic sectors, and politics, in the interest of Syria, and not limiting it to one party, such as the Justice and Development Party (AK Party).

Erdogan previously confirmed that Russia was pushing for a “rapprochement” between Turkey and the Syrian regime and said on 19 August that Turkey’s concern is not “defeating Assad” but rather reaching a political solution and reaching an agreement between the opposition and the regime.

On 11 August, the Turkish Foreign Minister revealed that he had held a “short” conversation with the Syrian Foreign Minister on the sidelines of the “Non-Aligned Movement” meeting that was held in October 2021 in the Serbian capital Belgrade.

Cavusoglu said that it is necessary to “achieve reconciliation between the opposition and the regime in Syria in some way,” considering that there will be no “lasting peace without achieving this.”

 

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