Turkey’s presidential aide on Saturday condemned a possible military offensive in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, saying “It will bring nothing but death and destruction”.
In a column titled “The Idlib quagmire is yet another test for the international system,” for Daily Sabah newspaper, Ibrahim Kalin wrote that a possible attack “will undermine all political efforts under both the Geneva and Astana processes.”
The Turkish presidential aide wrote that the Syrian war continues to create “chaos, human drama, and political turmoil” in its seventh year.”
“Without a robust and sustainable political solution, the ongoing political and military fighting will only exacerbate the current crises.
“Recent developments in and around Idlib are likely to make things worse, not better,” Kalin added.
Kalin’s article came a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed with his Russian and Iranian counterparts in Tehran the joint efforts as part of the Astana peace process and political efforts for finding a lasting solution to the Syrian conflict.
Speaking at the joint news conference with Putin and Rouhani, Erdogan called for an end to deaths in Syria.
According to Kalin, the Syrian war is “certainly not fought to help the Syrian people”.
“A solution based on reason, virtue and compassion would have been possible a long time ago if the stakeholders had a different approach,” he said.
“The two processes of Geneva and Astana have produced some results but neither has been able to stop the ongoing carnage.
“The Americans have used Daesh as a pretext to justify their presence in northeast Syria. With the Daesh threat largely eliminated, they are looking for ways to legitimate their engagement with the PKK in Syria in grave violation of the strategic partnership and relationship between Turkey and the U.S.
“Turkey's calls on the U.S. to stop this shady relationship have fallen on deaf ears. The regime and its backers, i.e., Iran and Russia, have also used the Daesh monster to justify their policies of drawing a new map in the Levant. They all have destroyed or weakened the moderate Syrian opposition groups both militarily and politically,” he added.
Kalin reiterated that any attack on Idlib where around 3.5 million people live, “will lead to a major humanitarian catastrophe.”
“It will trigger another wave of migration into Turkey and from there to Europe and elsewhere,” he added.
“It will be an immoral victory for the Assad regime. It will once again show that the only way to get what you want in Syria is to use indiscriminate and brutal force. This cannot be the way to resolve the Syrian conflict,” the presidential aide said.
The Assad regime recently announced plans to launch a major military offensive in the northwestern province of Idlib, which is controlled by various armed opposition groups.
Kalin reminded that Idlib is a de-escalation zone under the Astana agreement and Turkey, Russia and Iran established military posts in the province as the guarantor countries.
“Turkey has 12 of them,” Kalin said: “The presence of Turkish soldiers there is probably the only guarantee to prevent any major assault because the Russian jet fighters and the regime ground forces cannot afford attacks while Turkish soldiers are there; we know that they do not care about civilians and legitimate, moderate opposition forces. Any attack on Idlib in the name of eliminating terrorist groups would undermine the Astana process,” he added.
Kalin said Turkey has done its utmost and will continue its tireless efforts to prevent another humanitarian catastrophe in Syria.
“International support must go beyond statements of concern or ‘anger,’ as U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted. It must be translated into concrete action for both a political solution and a plan for the refugees.
“Idlib is a ticking bomb. We can turn it off and start a new process in Syria if the international community gets serious about the Syrian war and shows that they do care about the Syrian people,” he added. aa