Speaking to Sputnik reporter Suliman Mulhem today, Mustafa İlker Yücel, editor-in-chief of the Aydinlik newspaper – which was initially launched in the early 1920s as the Ottoman Empire’s first socialist newspaper – insisted that there is no need for the Turkish government to fanatically oppose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is likely to use Afrin as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Damascus.
“Even if Erdogan intends to stay in Afrin, the Turkish state won't allow this. Erdogan will try to use Afrin in negotiations with Damascus to strengthen his hand. This is his style. Many Turks and government officials think there is no reason to be fanatically anti-Assad. I think that the negotiations and diplomatic processes in Astana and Sochi will facilitate Afrin’s return to the Syrian Army and the Syrian government,” Mr. İlker Yücel said on Tuesday.
“Erdogan has to accept Assad’s victory in Syria at some point. Western countries have realized that they can’t topple Assad’s government and should adjust their stances accordingly. Erdogan is stubborn and politically ambitious, so he needs time to realize this fact.”
The Aydinlik newspaper’s editor-in-chief proceeded to say that Syria and Turkey are “together” against the US and its regional proxy forces, suggesting they should work in conjunction with one another to fend off common threats.
“Actually, the Turkish Army and the Syrian Army are together. They are together against America and its proxy forces, such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG.) The US is very happy that Erdogan still opposes Assad, and they want to use this to harm any chance of a regional alliance.”
Turkey considers the PKK to be a terrorist organization and has fought a bloody war against Kurdish separatists for around three decades.
Turkey launched operation Olive Branch in January to oust Kurdish-led forces from the Syrian city of Afrin and its surroundings, and is reportedly mulling over plans to strike the SDF in other parts of the Arab Republic.
The operation was harshly condemned by the Syrian government as a violation of the country’s sovereignty, and senior military officials have vowed to reclaim the territory from Turkey-backed forces.
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The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.