|Premature to say if Assad will be part of Syria transition: Turkish official|
Friday, 24 November 2017
Premature to say if Assad will be part of Syria transition: Turkish official
ISTANBUL: It’s too early to decide whether a political transition in Syria for ending its civil war will include President Bashar al-Assad, a Turkish official said on Thursday, emphasizing the Syrian leader should have no long-term political future.
Turkey, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has opposed Assad throughout the conflict, backing the opposition seeking to oust him and accusing the Syrian leader of war crimes.
But Ankara is now a key player in efforts to end the war along with Russia and Iran, even though Moscow and Tehran have been Assad’s main allies and helped tipped the conflict in his favor.
Mahir Unal, spokesman of Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), told foreign reporters at a briefing that the issue of Assad was still a red line for Turkey.
But he added: “The process will show whether there will be a transition with Assad, or without Assad, and the negotiations will make this clear.”
But he added that “Assad cannot continue to be a political actor who remains” on the scene after a transition.
Unal was speaking a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Erdogan in Sochi for their first ever three way summit on the Syrian crisis.
The Sochi summit agreed on holding a congress of Syrian national dialogue to seek a political solution.
A further possible stumbling block could be the role in the congress of Syrian Kurdish militia who control much of northern Syria but are seen as a terror group by Turkey.