Damascus has rejected a request by Ankara to organize a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, Orhan Miroğlu, a senior official of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, revealed to Sputnik on December 6.
Miroğlu told the Russian news agency that Damascus believe that such a meeting should be held only after the 2023 Turkish general elections.
“Turkey has fallen into a confrontation with Russia, the United States, Iran and Damascus because of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and the Syrian Democratic Forces,” Miroğlu, who is also a member of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, said. “This sensitive situation may greatly affect the Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections to be held in 2023.”
Previously, Miroğlu said that Turkish-Syrian relations could take a “new turn” after the upcoming general elections in Turkey.
Ankara broke ties with Damascus more than eleven years ago, when the war first broke out in Syria. Today, it is considered the main backer of Syrian rebels and its military occupies vast parts of the country’s northern region.
Erdogan called for the departure of Assad on multiple occasions early on in the Syrian war, while Assad accused Turkey of supporting terrorism in Syria.
Miroğlu remarks are in line with a recent report by Reuters which revealed that Assad had rejected a proposal to meet Erdogan with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. According to the report, Damascus believes that such a meeting could boost Erdogan’s chances in the Turkish general elections, especially if its addresses the issue of returning some of the 3,6 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
Turkey is currently conducting an air operation against Kurdish forces in northern Syria, which are backed by the U.S, and is threatening the war-torn country with a new ground invasion.
In a recent televised discussion, Erdogan expressed his willingness to meet with Assad and noted that “there can be no resentment in politics.”
A rapprochement with Syria can help Turkey address many of its security concerns and find a real solution for the refugee crisis. This could boost the chances of Erdogan and his party in the upcoming elections. Damascus is apparently well aware of this.
Without concrete steps by Ankara, including a military withdrawal from at least some parts of northern Syria, Damascus will not likely agree to restore ties.
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