ErdoIan offers ’friendly warning’ against fueling conflict in Syria

Erdogan offers and’friendly warningand’ against fueling conflict in Syria
The return of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) to single-party government in an election this month gives Turkey the opportunity to take stronger steps on regional issues, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.
In an apparent reference to Russiaand’s involvement in neighbouring Syria, he also offered a andquotfriendly warningandquot that those adding fuel to the conflict would find themselves in the same fire.
Speaking at a business meeting of the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEiK) in Ankara, Erdogan said the result of the Nov. 1 election, which saw the AK Party garner nearly 50 percent of the vote on Nov. 1, would bring an end to political uncertainty in the country.
Erdoganand’s remarks came as Turkey once again floats the idea of a safe zone in Syria and amid talk of Turkish involvement in a ground operation in its southern neighbor. In remarks on Tuesday, Erdogan said Turkeyand’s allies in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are getting closer to the idea of forming a safe zone in Syria and that he saw positive developments on a no-fly zone and the carrying out of air operations.
Erdogan also said in comments broadcast live by CNN Tandurk that Turkey would not tolerate Kurdish militants aancing to the west of the Euphrates, which Ankara fears will lead to the formation of a Kurdish corridor near its southern border.
Earlier, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoilu has told CNN International that Turkey may consider taking part in a ground operation against ISIL in Syria as part of an and”integrated strategyand” of the anti-ISIL coalition.
If the coalition develops a comprehensive strategy and shares the burden, the prime minister noted on Monday night, then Turkey would join a ground offensive.
The Turkish military, however, gives two conditions for the intervention in Syria. According to a news report that appeared in the Handurriyet daily, the military is against any sort of intervention in Syria that does not have UN support or the participation of NATO, of which Turkey is a member. The Turkish military seeks a legitimate grounding for any operation and looks for international platforms to justify its possible action in the future.
The other scenario under consideration that may legitimize action, according to the military, is a direct attack from the Syrian side which would immediately lay grounds for retaliation and a possible intervention under the UNand’s relevant chapters regulating a member-stateand’s right for self-defense. Only in that case, the military says, Turkey may intervene in Syria within the scope of self-defense.
Apart from minor border skirmishes and Syriaand’s downing of a fighter jet in international waters two years ago, there has been no direct attack by the Syrian regime against Turkey since the uprising began in 2011. In the past few years, Turkey has shot down a Syrian jet and a helicopter, after both violated Turkish air space.
Turkey has long been a staunch opponent of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assadand’s regime and sternly opposes any proposal that leaves Assad in power. Turkey is also pressing for a safe zone in northern Syria, a demand so far rejected by the US and other Western allies for the reason that it may require broader military commitment and complex planning.
The Turkish government wants to place some of the 2 million Syrian refugees in such safe zones if the coalition agrees to create such areas.
US military experts believe that the forming of a safe — or buffer — zone has been rendered impractical and impossible after the Russian intervention in Syria. Russia launched its first air strikes on Sept. 30, an operation widely believed to be aimed at shoring up the embattled Assad regime.
Russia and the US seek to find way to de-conflict their air operations to avoid inaertent incidents in the air.
In the meantime, Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioilu will take part in the next round of Vienna talks, a new initiative that brings together Russia, Iran — both Assad allies — the US and Saudi Arabia in a drive to find a political settlement to the prolonged conflict.
Previous rounds of talks faltered and failed to yield a substantial result but did succeed in bringing back diplomacy to the center of the efforts to end the four-and-a-half year war that has killed a quarter million people, displacing millions inside Syria and sending 4 million refugees to neighboring countries.


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