‘Turkey is already a part of the Western alliance,’ CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said Sept. 9, in response to questions from reporters. AA Photo
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has declared that it would not object to participating in a coalition that aims at battling jihadist militants in neighboring countries.
“We would not object to Turkey’s participation in an international operation that would be launched against ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant]. It is an important decision for Turkey’s future … Turkey is already a part of the Western alliance,” CHPleader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said Sept. 9, in response to questions from reporters.
Kılıçdaroğlu’s statement comes as talks between Turkey and the United States have intensified regarding the former’s participation in an anti-ISIL coalition. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel held lengthy talks with top Turkish officials on Sept. 8, repeating President Barack Obama’s call for Turkey to join the coalition. However, the Turkish government is yet to finalize its decision about its role in the fight against the ISIL.
Although Kılıçdaroğlu gave his approval, he was also highly critical of the government’s policies towards ISIL. “There is a lack of foresight on the government’s side. It hesitates to call ISIL a terror organization. It could not take an open position against it. The Republic of Turkey does not see the concern [over ISIL] that all the other countries in see,” he stressed.
Revisiting the claims that a large proportion of weapons used by ISIL were in fact provided to them by Turkey, Kılıçdaroğlu called on the government to question itself and its policies. “We have repeatedly said sectarian-based policies would drag the country into a quagmire,” he added.
The CHP head recently announced that he would not meet President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan unless the country was dragged into a war, however he has indicated that the current situation requires him to talk to the president.
“If making a decision on this issue is in question and if the main opposition’s view is asked about this decision, of course, I would accept,” Kılıçdaroğlu said when asked whether he would respond affirmatively if Erdoğan invites him to discuss the issue.
Davutoğlu meets top soldiers
The remarks by Kılıçdaroğlu came as Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu held a meeting with Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel, the commanding-officer of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), and Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz on the same day.
The meeting at the Prime Ministry headquarters appeared to have been part of an ongoing deliberation as to what “specific role” Turkey would play in a U.S.-led coalition.
Both Davutoğlu and Gen. Özel held talks with Secretary of Defense Hagel on Sept. 8 and are expected to hold further political and military talks in the near future.
Kerry calls Çavuşoğlu
Meanwhile, Turkey’s newly-assigned Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has held a telephone conversation with his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State John Kerry, amid Washington-led efforts to forge an international coalition against ISIL militants in Iraq and Syria.
The two foreign ministers reviewed regional developments, at a time when the international community set to mobilize against ISIL. Both foreign ministers have embarked on a regional tour that includes visits to Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Çavuşoğlu is also expected to attend a conference in Jeddah, where the risks and threats in the Middle East will be discussed.