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A Turkish Three-Step Roadmap For Syria Including Assad’s Departue | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim addresses the media in Ankara. Photo: Reuters

Ankara, Beirut- Turkey has set a three-step scenario for a political solution in Syria summarized in protecting the borders, preventing the creation of states controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the return of refugees currently residing in neighboring countries.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim asserted during an interview with the Turkish Karar newspaper published yesterday that the new era would not see a state structure based on Syria’s sectarian, ethnic or regional basis.

Yildirim said that when there is no sectarian structure, this means that Bashar Assad will not be in Syria “in the long-run.”

The prime minister said a solution in Syria will preserve Syria’s territorial integrity, and therefore, a strong state could not be formed in the presence of the Kurdish PYD in North Syria.

Diplomatic sources had previously told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that “Turkey would not accept the presence of Assad, but rather agrees on his staying during a short transitional period.”

However, the latest statements delivered by Turkish officials and Ankara’s rapprochement with Moscow and Tehran that support the Syrian regime, had showed a Turkish inclination to Bashar Assad’s regime.

Several analysts expected a breakthrough in the relations between Ankara and Assad’s regime in light of Turkey underscoring Syria’s unity.

But, Yildirim has set the method through which Turkey will deal with the Syrian crisis in the coming phase. The prime minister asserted that his country would overcome the Syrian problem together with regional actors. He said the time had come for Turkey to mend relations with Syria after taking steps for rapprochement with Israel and Russia.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had visited Ankara last Friday for talks with Turkish officials three days after Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan had visited Russia where he sat with President Vladimir Putin.

Also, the latest military changes in the Aleppo battle and the recent Russian-Turkish-Iranian rapprochement had imposed a change in the positions of the so-called Hezbollah and its secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah.

Lebanese political researcher and an expert on Hezbollah affairs and Islamic movements, Qassem Qassir told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper: “A big development is now happening in Syria.”

Qassir said such a conclusion could be reached “if we look at the way Nasrallah spoke with the armed groups in Syria by calling on them to reach an understanding with him because they were used as a tool by the U.S.”

Qassir said: “It is clear that the party’s secretary general was not speaking from a weak position, but, certainly, he was preparing the grounds for upcoming changes and a political settlement, based on the Turkish-Russian-Iranian rapprochement and information about a new phase, not only in Syria, but the entire region.”

Director of the Umam Documentation and Research center Lokman Slim told Asharq Al-Awsat there is no need to stop at the comments of the so-called Hezbollah, even if its secretary general Hassan Nasrallah issued them. However, he said: “It is important to monitor the Iranian policy and how Tehran was trying to benefit from the regional and international changes.”

Slim, a Shi’ite activist who opposes the views of the so-called Hezbollah, said: “When Iran makes military victories, it considers itself a winner. However, when it retreats and loses, similar to what is now happening in Aleppo, then Tehran refers to the diplomatic choice.”