Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted there could be no solution in Syria while Bashar al-Assad remains in power. Erdogan said Russian President Vladimir Putin had told him he was not personally committed to Assad.
“Assad is not the address for a prospective solution in Syria,” Erdogan told Reuters in a wide-ranging interview in the presidential palace in Ankara on Tuesday. He voiced frustration at international failure to compel the Syrian dictator to leave.
“So long as Assad remains in power, a solution can never be created in Syria,” Erdogan said. “He has attacked his people with tanks, with cannons, with barrel bombs, with chemical weapons, with fighter jets. Do you think he could be the vehicle for a solution?”
“Syria should be liberated from Assad so that a solution could emerge,” Erdogan said. The Turkish leader hinted at a softening of Russia’s support for Assad. Putin, Erdogan said, had told him: “’Erdogan, do not get me wrong. I’m not an advocate for Assad, I’m not his lawyer.”
“Assad killed hundreds of thousands of people and I have 3 million refugees in my country, 1.5 million refugees are currently in Lebanon, and there are about 1 million refugees in Jordan and these people have fled their motherlands,” Erdogan said.
“Why? Assad is the sole reason. We can no longer speak about a solution with Assad, or our efforts will be in vain, so we have to let the people of Syria choose their own leader.”
Erdogan said he was confident there are plenty of alternatives to Assad. “I have no hesitations, I have no reservations. There are many ideal names who can be the next leader.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)