Ebru Günay, spokesperson for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), spoke at a press conference in Amed (tr. Diyarbakir) about Turkey’s continued attacks on northern Syria and speculation about a rapprochement between Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan and his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad.
Highlights from Günay’s remarks are as follows:
“The Turkish government’s attacks on north-eastern Syria continue and we are following developments in Syria very closely. For the first time since 2011, the government, which has continuously supported and even fueled the war in Syria, is talking about talks and dialogue with Assad.
As a party, we are of course in favour of solving all problems through dialogue and negotiation. However, we are also aware that the government’s goal is not really negotiation and dialogue. Apart from justifying this proposal for dialogue, the reintroduction of Assad as an interlocutor at this stage means that the palace and its gangs have lost the war in Syria.
In other words, the finale of the horror/adventure film shot from the palace, ‘Overthrow of Assad’, has now become an absurd comedy. In the process that started with the promise to pray in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, the government, which tries to strengthen itself with military operations, especially before every election, and which has the system-immanent opposition behind it, has brought millions of refugees to Turkey. This is the situation Turkey faces today.
Millions of people have paid, and are still paying, a heavy price for this adventurism and attempts to give the Ihvan [Muslim Brotherhood] regime supremacy in Syria. However, the palace regime seems to have learnt nothing from this devastation, which has affected large parts of the Middle East. It insists on an intractable policy, because a dialogue with Assad will only take place at the expense of the Kurds. The palace regime is looking for ways to carry out the operation to liquidate the Kurds, which it first tried to do unsuccessfully through ISIS and then by invading Syrian territory, this time by partnering with the Assad regime under the name of dialogue and negotiations or by handing them over to Assad.
POLITICS OF BARGAINING AND BLACKMAIL
Turkey has no perspective for a solution in Syria. Its only goal is to fight the Kurds and leave them without status. The most important thing it will put forward as a condition for its withdrawal from all the territories it occupies and where it has loyal troops stationed is the deprivation of the Kurds’ rights. This is not a policy of solution, but a policy of bargaining and blackmail. First of all, from the Syrian regime’s point of view, Turkey is a country that has occupation forces in many parts of Syria. In the regime’s view, all armed groups supported by Turkey are terrorists. Despite this, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu speaks of reconciliation between the government in Damascus and these groups, which he considers to be the opposition, but which have committed numerous crimes against humanity in the areas they control. He does this without explaining whether or not they will withdraw from the regions they are in, and without giving an assessment on this question.
Turkey’s priority is to develop relations with the Assad regime in order to leave the Kurds without status. In order to do so, it would easily be prepared to abandon the groups it supports. But that would lead to problems. It is trying to sound out the terrain. Another goal is to set up a buffer zone in agreement with the Syrian regime and to settle refugees there. However much Turkey talks about peace, its main policy is to destabilise Syria and Rojava and prepare the ground for invasion and new attacks. All its actions and plans are geared towards this.
TURKEY MUST WITHDRAW FROM SYRIA
The best policy is to leave the solution in Syria to the Syrian people. If Turkey happened to take such a position, it would serve a solution. Bargaining, blackmail and an anti-Kurdish policy are not solution-oriented. If Turkey is interested in a solution and peace in Syria, all it must do is withdraw from Syrian territory and abandon its support for the factions associated with it. The pursuit of dialogue and negotiations by a government that is responsible for carrying out deadly drone attacks and massacres of civilians on a daily basis, looting and changing the demographic structure can only lead to the exacerbation of these crimes.
A POLITICAL SOLUTION IS POSSIBLE
As the HDP, we have advocated and will continue to advocate direct negotiations for a political and lasting solution in Syria without interference from foreign powers. It is possible to find a solution for all those who have fled Syria, except for those who have committed war crimes. They should be able to return to their home country in safety. War criminals should be tried immediately in their countries of origin and their organisations should be disbanded to pave the way for regional disarmament. Just as we as HDP approach the Kurdish question in Turkey on the basis of a political solution, we are in favour of a political and lasting solution in Syria through negotiations. We will continue to defend this principled stance at all times and in all places.”