Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded to the U.S. attack on Syria by holding out a hand to Washington and calling for an even stronger action: a U.S.-led military intervention.
“This is a positive step in the war against the Assad regime, but I don’t think it is sufficient,” he said. “Turkey is ready if concrete decisions are to be taken. Come together in a coalition of powers, led by the United States.”
“The wicked actions of the Assad regime have crossed many red lines,” he continued. “For some time my thoughts against Syria and Assad have changed much.” He adopted a more proactive approach recently, when Turkey and the U.S. were cornered because of the operations of Raqqa, conducted thanks to the Kurdish YPG — an alliance that the Turkish government has long sought to destroy.
This diligent offer of cooperation is an attempt to strengthen relations between the two NATO members and give weight to the Turkish army against Russia. On Assad, Erdogan has shown some flexibility in thinking, especially over the inefficient talks in Astana, when the permanence of the regime became acceptable for Ankara.
Relations with Moscow suffered a jolt. “I spoke with Putin, who is doubtful whether Assad is really behind this attack,” Erdogan said. “It saddens us that they cannot figure it out after two or three days.” Ankara is also saddened about the joint actions between Damascus and Moscow, which concluded inoffensive-sounding military exercises, Euphrates Shield. Erdogan’s speech had the flavor of a campaign stump.
That’s what the leader of the Republican Party CHP, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, claimed in a tirade against the adventurism of the government, resurrected thanks to American bombs: “They said they would enter Manbij, which would go to Raqqa. They try to enter the region under the wing of a power, but none of them wants Turkey.”
More important than Erdogan’s bellicose statements are those issued by the Minister of Justice Bozdag, that “autopsies were conducted on three bodies from Idlib. The findings support the use of chemical weapons.” These analyses should have been conducted by WHO experts and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in a hospital in Adana. However, the documents concerning the analyses were not disclosed, and the authorities did not provide other details.
Messages in the tones used by the Turkish government are not only useful for attempting a rapprochement with America but also have a remarkable effect on the opinion of the Turkish public, outraged by the chemical weapons attack in Idlib. It’s a convenient moment for a referendum.
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