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Ankara denies asking Damascus to grant Muslim Brotherhood government posts – Sources | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Senior Turkish presidential adviser, Arshet Hormozlo, denied the claims that Ankara had put forward a proposal to Damascus which would see the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood being granted as much as a third of government posts, in return for Turkish aid in putting down the protests that have rocked the country.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Arshet Hormozlo revealed that “we are in a state of shock and surprise, for we have never put forward any such proposal; the Turkish positions remains the same, in terms of calling on the Syrians to listen to the voice of the people as well as our continued support for a successful move towards a democratic and multi-party future [in Syria].” He also stressed that “there is no truth that any party has put forward a proposal such as this to the Syrian administration.”

Hormozlo’s denials come in response to an Agence-France Presse [AFP] report published on Thursday claiming that Ankara asked Damascus to offer the Muslim Brotherhood government posts in exchange for Turkey’s support in ending the anti-government rallies taking place across Syria.

An unnamed Western diplomat was quoted by the AFP as saying that “in June, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered, if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ensured between a quarter and a third of ministers in his government were members of the Muslim Brotherhood, to make a commitment to use all his influence to end the rebellion.”

Hormozlo strongly denied this claim to Asharq Al-Awsat. He stressed that Turkey’s position is that “any regime’s decisions, including the Syrian regime’s, must be decided internally in Syria, and must be taken by the Syrian people themselves.” He also said that “there is no room to carry out these claims and proposals put forward in the media” adding that they “are not compatible with Turkish policies or the situation in Syria.”

The Muslim Brotherhood has been a banned organization under successive al-Assad regimes since 1963. The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood was responsible for a popular revolt in the city of Hama in 1982 which was brutally put down by then Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, resulting in the so-called Hama Massacre and the death of approximately 20,000 Syrian citizens.

Syrian Law 49, ratified in July 1980 and which remains in force today, makes it a “criminal offence punishable by death to be affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The reports that Ankara was pressuring Syria to allow the political participation – and indeed a quarter of government seats – to the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood were also strongly denied by Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal. He stressed that “those allegations have nothing to do with the truth.”

Unal said that “favouring any political, ideological, ethnic, or sectarian group or making any one of them subject to bargaining [in Syria] was out of the question” for Turkey. He added that Ankara has repeatedly called on Damascus to start reforms “to ensure a transition to parliamentary democracy.”

Turkish presidential adviser Arshet Hormozlo also called on Syria to “exert effort to improve the condition of their people and listen to their demands” stressing that “much of the rumours and allegations that are being invented aims to disrupt the friendship between the people of Turkey and Syria.” He added that “they will not succeed because we have strong and enduring ties with the Syrian people.”

Commenting on the economic sanctions that Turkey is set to impose upon Syria, Hormozlo said that “these measures will be announced by the Turkish government after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ends his visit to the Syrian refugee camps.” He added that “it is premature to talk about the content and application of these sanctions at this time.”

The Turkish presidential adviser also clarified that Erdogan’s visit to the Syrian refugee camps was in order for the Turkish prime minister to “personally see the situation being experienced by these [Syrian] refugees who we consider guests on Turkish soil and who we have provided with all the humanitarian aid they require, because we believe this is one of the duties of Turkey and its people.” He said that Erdogan’s visit will grant the Turkish prime minister “sufficient time to personally listen to these [Syrian] guests…and hear their views regarding what is happening in Syria.”