Turkey says Assad exploiting delays to Syria peace talks

ISTANBUL Wed Nov 20, 2013 9:29am EST

A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he takes a position inside a room in Deir al-Zor, eastern Syria November 19, 2013. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he takes a position inside a room in Deir al-Zor, eastern Syria November 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Khalil Ashawi

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday of exploiting delays to planned U.S. and Russian-backed peace talks by stepping up attacks on the opposition and said the conference must take place quickly if it was to be of use.

Russia, which strongly backs Assad, and the United States announced in May they would try to bring Syria's government and opposition together at the so-called Geneva 2 peace talks, but a date has so far proved elusive.

"The (Assad) regime is orchestrating an absolute human tragedy by ramping up its bombings recently and leaving its people starving through a siege," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a news conference in Istanbul.

"Geneva 2 should convene, produce results ... and the calendar should not be allowed to be exploited," he said.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday he hoped the conference could be convened in mid-December but he could not yet give an exact date.

More than two and half years into Syria's civil war, the balance of power has tilted in favor of Assad and against the increasingly fragmented rebels.

Turkey, a backer of the opposition which faces a growing threat of spillover across its 900 km (560-mile) border with Syria, has supported international peace efforts but has become increasingly frustrated by a lack of concrete progress.

"As Turkey we have supported all diplomatic initiatives. But since May, there's been constant talk about Geneva 2, and expectations mount, but it ends in disappointment because there are no positive results," Davutoglu said.

(Reporting by Dasha Afanasieva,; Writing by Nick Tattersall, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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Comments (3)
QuidProQuo wrote:
Really Turkey, what positive results are you expecting when you knowingly and willingly allow the terrorists to border cross at will? If you’re only expectation is that Assad is just going to turn over power to bunch of fragmented and ill prepared rebels, well you will have to remain disappointed I do believe.

Nov 20, 2013 11:33am EST  --  Report as abuse
Anti_Jihad wrote:
QuidProQuo you are damn right! They are clearing minefields along the border and arrange bustrips for the jihadists.

I hope Erdoğan will pay for what he done, he is a criminal.

Its scary, and Turkey want a place in European Union.

Nov 20, 2013 12:13pm EST  --  Report as abuse
RobertFrost wrote:
Turkish foreign policy dictated by the Islamist government suffered serious setbacks in its attempt to re-establish the “Ottoman Empire.”

Having managed to surround itself with countries totally hostile to it, the government began a roll back of its aggressive designs.

This was accompanied by the internal development. Public discontent and demonstrations (including firing on children by Turkish security) and the resurgence of the Kurdish problem threaten the Turkish Islamist regime, itself. The Kurds and other oppressed minorities make up some 40% of the population of Turkey.

Its flagship policy, that of bringing the Syrian regime down, remains as the only tattered objective, but the position of the armed groups they harbor and pass funds and arms is itself in a state of retreat with Syria’s north, bordering on Turkey, becoming the new center of the fight between the Syrian army and the armed groups, including Al-Qa’ida gangs, which Turkey supported.

This angered the US, and forced it to replace the Qatar Shaikh, another Al-Qa’ida financier by his son and ordering the Turkish government to cease its aid to these groups – which it obviously declined to do, at least openly!

Further, relations with Iran, Turkey’s main oil supplier and with Russia, Turkey’s main natural gas supplier began to expose the fissures which were often plastered upon over the last year or so.

Turkey never expressed agreement to attend the Geneva Conference before. the stubborn policies pursued by its leaders on this score angered the US administration and made it ignore Turkey in conferences and meetings on the issue – reaching not inviting it to such gatherings.

The visit of the Turkish Foreign Minister to the US last week signaled a change of course.

This comes as the armed groups themselves continue to suffer a defeat after another, depriving them, through the piecemeal operations of the Syrian army, from strategic and vital locations for continued survival, and the growth of the strength of the Syrian Kurdish Popular Protection Units in defeating the groups supported by Turkey, including “Nusrah Front,” al-Qa’ida affiliate which continued to receive the support of the Turkish government until less than eight weeks ago!

It comes as no surprise that the Turkish government now needs the Geneva conference, and soon. While it never vocally even supported the idea before. This would enable it to pick up the shards of its belligerent and aggressive policies in the region.

And they need it to be convened “quickly,” before the Syrian army gains more grounds and makes the meeting totally counter-productive.

This is not only a headache the Turks have, but the US administration too. The US have been totally unable to bring the opposition groups and the armed groups under one umbrella.

This is not because of the fragmentary nature of the armed groups and the refusal of the so-called (Five-Star-Hotel) opposition groups to attend the Conference, but because their sponsors, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey themselves, refuse to let them attend it. It is noted that Saudi Arabia to this day is against the Geneva Conference!

There is no international law or agreement that the Turkish government did not trample upon. Giving succor and passing financial and material help to insurgents in another country is typically a “Declaration of War” against that country – a basic tenet of international law.

The Turkish government, the Saudi family and the Qatar Sheikhs managed to “get away with it” so far, no doubt because of the US cover and the inability of the Syrian regime to handle alone a war with Turkey, although it signaled its readiness for defending its territory by shooting down two intruding Turkish phantoms a year ago.

On a different score, it is doubtful that the Geneva Conference will be held this year, or ever! The differences amongst the patrons of the armed groups, and between the armed groups themselves, as well as between the “opposition” groups, the “Five Star Hotel” version or the internal political opposition are so wide and unbridgeable.

The Syrian army is certainly taking advantage of the situation, and is carrying out their piecemeal elimination, by depriving them from supply routes and expelling them from important strategic locations, the last of which around Aleppo airport, which was closed for a year because of the threat of these gangs to civil aviation – following the attack on a passenger jet arriving to that airport.

No! No one in the West heard about it. In older times, or at least if the attack was carried by different gangs, this would have made the news in the US and the West, and demands to ostracize Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar would quickly be set out in an UN Security Council Resolution… But this is another story!

Nov 20, 2013 4:20pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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