Opposition leader Akşener says she is 'willing' to go to Syria, talk with Assad

Meral Akşener, leader of the opposition İYİ (Good) Party, has criticized the government's Syria policy, saying it is time Turkey “made peace” with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “If Mr. Erdoğan, you cannot get over your anger and be rational, then I am ready to go to Syria, talk with Assad and solve this problem,” she said.

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Meral Akşener, leader of the opposition İYİ (Good) Party, has criticized the government's policy on Syria, suggesting that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan should “get over his feelings, be rational, longsighted and realistic” and “make peace with” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“The U.S. firms are now signing agreements with Assad worth $700-800 billion. The Western countries first demolished Syria, and now their own companies will undertake investments worth $700-800 billion within 10 years. Turkey turned out to be an apprentice regarding this issue....If Mr. Erdoğan, you cannot get over your anger and be rational, I am ready to go to Syria, talk with Assad and solve this problem. There is no point in leaving Turkey as an apprentice again,” Akşener said on Jan. 5, while addressing a meeting of her party in the capital Ankara.

Akşener said that the Syrian civil war had cost Turkey $40-50 billion and left the country with accommodating 5 millions of Syrian refugees, which makes it necessary for Ankara to “make peace” with Assad.

“What did we end up having after Syrian [civil war]? According to some, $40 billion, according to others $50 billion worth of spending. We are accommodating 5 million Syrian refugees; on top of that, 150,000 refugees coming from Idlib. I asked a minister, 'How many refugees more in total [due to a recent refugee wave from Idlib]?' He said, '2 million people.' I asked if it was stoppable; he said 'impossible.' So this makes it 7 million [refugees] in total,” she said.

Akşener said that her party took a “lesson” from the Syrian civil war in terms of not interfering with another country's affairs, which is why the İYİ Party deputies voted against a motion last week on sending troops to Libya in support of the embattled United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).

The motion that passed the Turkish parliament on Jan. 2 was backed by the deputies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Felicity (Saadet) Party and the İYİ Party voted against the bill.

The “lesson and experience” learned regarding the Syrian civil war “led us to say 'No' regarding the unknown in Libya. We will continue to be Turkey's common sense, to stand by this nation, to stand against Turkey's being polarized as well as exclusionist and disrespectful language,” she said.

GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj asked for Turkish support last month as it fends off an offensive by forces led by eastern leader Khalifa Haftar, backed by Russia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

Turkey to send military experts, advisers to Libya

TurkishForeign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Jan. 6 that Turkey willsend military experts and technical teams to Libya, a day afterPresident Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkish military units were moving toTripoli.

Erdoğan said on Jan. 5 that Turkish military units had started moving to Libya to support the GNA. Asked to elaborate on Erdoğan's comments, Çavuşoğlu said Turkey would send experts, advisers and technical teams under a military cooperation agreement signed with the GNA in November.

"How and when this will happen is to be decided by the government, under the president's leadership," Çavuşoğlu said.

Çavuşoğlu's comments come a week after Turkish officials said that Ankara was considering sending Syrian rebel fighters to Libya as part of its planned military support.

A spokesman for the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) denied that Ankara had requested that it send fighters to Libya, but a military source within the FSA said some fighters had signed up on an individual basis to work as "bodyguards" for a Turkish security company in Libya.