Erdogan renews his intention to invite al-Assad to Turkey amid Syrian disregard

Syrian regime’s president Bashar al-Assad with then Turkish Prime Minister (now president) Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Damascus in 2010 (AFP)

Syrian regime’s president Bashar al-Assad with then Turkish Prime Minister (now president) Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Damascus in 2010 (AFP)

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan renewed his intention to invite Syrian regime’s president Bashar al-Assad to visit Turkey at any moment.

During a press conference held on a plane returning from Germany back to Turkey today, Sunday, July 7, Erdogan stated that he would extend an invitation to al-Assad as soon as possible, explaining that he aims through this invitation to restore relations between Turkey and the Syrian regime to the same point they were in the past.

Erdogan said, “We have now reached a point where, as soon as Bashar al-Assad takes a step towards improving relations with Turkey, we will show the same approach towards him.”

He added that Russian President Vladimir Putin has an approach to meeting with al-Assad in Turkey, as does the Iraqi Prime Minister in this context, commenting, “We are talking about mediation, why not talk with our neighbor?” according to his expression.

Baghdad has not yet set a date for the talks that will bring together the Syrian regime with Turkey, and despite media reports about an imminent date for the meeting, an official in the office of the Iraqi Prime Minister refused to set a final date, saying, “We are doing what is necessary, and the remaining details require extensive discussions with the concerned parties,” according to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

After joint invitation

Two days ago, the Turkish President said that he might extend an invitation to Syrian regime’s President Bashar al-Assad to visit Turkey, along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, considering that this might be the beginning of a new process.

Erdogan then stated that it is necessary for Syria, whose infrastructure has been destroyed and whose people have been dispersed, to stand on its feet again and end the state of instability.

He continued, “We will stand by a prosperous, united Syria (…) as long as Syria initiates this great embrace and recovers in every field,” according to Turkish media.

The regime ignores the gesture

On the other hand, al-Assad did not comment on Erdogan’s speech about his intention to meet with al-Assad and his desire to restore relations to what they were, despite Erdogan’s repetition of this on more than one occasion over the past ten days.

Moreover, there was no comment from the Syrian Foreign Ministry regarding the upcoming meetings within the framework of the Turkish rapprochement path.

On July 3, the pro-regime newspaper Al-Watan reported, citing unnamed sources it described as “informed sources from Damascus,” that there are constant contacts between Moscow and Arab capitals to ensure that any meeting with the Turkish side results in a clear, explicit, and public commitment to withdraw from all Syrian territories “occupied” by the Turkish army and its affiliates, according to a specific timetable.

The sources considered this a basic foundation on which the remaining topics could be discussed.

Turkey took a stance rejecting the Syrian regime’s security handling of the popular revolution in 2011 and supported the Syrian opposition forces. Turkey gained extensive influence and established military bases in northwestern Syria following military operations alongside the opposition against the Islamic State and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

However, the path of Turkish-Syrian rapprochement began with the first statements of former Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu about his meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad in Belgrade at the end of 2021.

The path experienced a state of confusion and mutual conditions, the latest of which was the Syrian regime president Bashar al-Assad’s retreat from the condition of Turkish withdrawal from northern Syria for negotiating with Ankara.

 

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