Turkey’s opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has urged the government to work towards peace with Syria as the Turkish military begins an incursion into the northern part of Syria.
“The shortest path for the establishment of peace in Syria is the path between Damascus and Ankara,” CHP spokesperson Faik Öztrak told journalists on Oct. 7.
“We’ve been saying this since the beginning [of the war]: don’t enter the Middle East swamp. However, he didn’t listen to us,” Öztrak said, referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“We called on [the government] to make amends with Syria. We asked about the reason why our soldiers are dying in foreign soil. We are standing with the interests of our soldiers and our nation,” he added.
CHP Group Deputy Chairman Engin Özkoç also slammed the government, also saying that Turkish soldiers shouldn’t be pushed towards the “Middle East swamp” for the sake of political gain.
Turkey has been dispatching its troops to the Syrian border following a statement released by the White House announcing the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country.
“Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into northern Syria,” read the Oct. 7 statement.
“Negotiation instead of military force”
The harshest criticism on the issue came from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), with its group deputy chairperson Saruhan Oluç saying that the military operation “won’t be the one to bring peace and democracy to the region.”
“In order for the establishment and enhancement of democratic regimes in Syria and Iraq, steps need to be taken towards democracy and negotiation instead of military force,” Oluç told journalists in a press briefing held in parliament on Oct. 7, adding that the “safe zone” proposed by Turkey can’t ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
“It is the equivalent of conducting surgery on a neighboring country’s soil,” he added.
MHP urges caution
The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), however, voiced its support of the military operation, albeit with a warning.
MHP Deputy Head Kamil Aydın said that the operation needs to be carried out with caution in order to prevent defeat, while also reminding the authorities that it needs to be similar to how Operation Olive Branch, which was carried out in Syria’s Afrin, was conducted.
“Rather than fighting at two fronts, we think that feasibility studies should be carried out. Our intelligence sources need to work not quickly, but in a systematic manner as they did during Operation Olive Branch,” Aydın told reporters in Parliament on Oct. 7, adding that Turkey needs to eliminate “threats against us by an illegal organization.”
“The aim is to make our four million Syrian refugee siblings who are here go back to their homeland by setting up a safe zone. We don’t have our eyes on anybody’s soil, but we are suffering from this situation,” Aydın said.