Turkish Defense Minister Yasar Guler emphasized his country’s desire for peace in Syria while also acknowledging concerns related to border security. Guler was appointed as defence minister by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following his election victory, succeeding Hulusi Akar. In an interview with Sabah newspaper, Guler discussed the ongoing negotiations initiated by Ankara with the Syrian regime, which initially involved Hulusi Akar and former intelligence chief Hakan Fidan. The talks progressed from defence minister and intelligence chief levels to deputy foreign minister and foreign minister levels.
Guler expressed Turkey’s sincere aspiration for peace while underscoring the necessity of addressing its border security and safeguarding its citizens. He indicated that Turkey believes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would take a more rational stance on the matter. The key stage for achieving peace in Syria, according to Guler, is the formulation and adoption of a new constitution.
Guler’s comments followed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s recent statement rejecting a meeting with Erdogan based on certain terms. Assad criticized the notion of a meeting without preconditions, highlighting the importance of a clear agenda and preparation to yield meaningful results. He stated that while he aims for Turkish troops’ withdrawal from Syria, Erdogan aims to legitimize Turkey’s occupation of Syrian territory.
Assad attributed the terrorism in Syria to Turkey, disputing Erdogan’s claims that the Turkish presence is necessary to counter-terrorism. The Assad regime insists on the withdrawal of Turkish forces from northern Syria prior to engaging in talks with Turkey. However, Ankara maintains its presence in Syria to counter potential terrorist threats along its southern border.
The process of establishing a dialogue between Turkey and the Assad regime, supported initially by Moscow and later by Iran, faces challenges due to the opposing stances of the two parties. The path forward for this dialogue remains unclear as both sides grapple with their differing positions.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.