Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Dec 16 that Turkey could consider to work with Bashar al-Assad in Syria if Assad would come to power through a democratic election.
The statement Çavuşoğlu made during the Doha Conference marks the most significant change in Turkey’s Syria policy since the early stages of the Syria civil war in 2011.
Turkey has been saying so far that there could be no solution in Syria with Assad, including the transition period as it was suggested in Geneva peace process and Astana process for de-escalation of tension in Syria. Now it is an indirect statement that lifts the Turkish objection on even the candidacy of Assad for presidency in an election in the transition process.
The statement came after Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan’s telephone conversation with the U.S. President Donald Trump on Dec 14, following a visit of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Special Syria Envoy James Jeffrey to Ankara a week before. It is a given fact that Erdoğan’s partner in Astana process, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been for letting Assad to take a part in the transition process as the official head of Syria state, who actually owes his chair mainly to Putin’s support and the support from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Turkish Foreign Minister’s statement might have consequences and speed up the peace efforts in Syria which could consolidate and endorse Turkey’s position in talks for Syria’s future. The development could also lead a new phase in Turkey’s tension with its main ally the U.S. regarding the American collaboration with the PYD forces in Syria, an offshoot of the outlawed PKK that has been designated as terrorist also by the U.S.
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