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Has Erdogan “switched sides again” or is he trying to kick-start the Sochi Peace Conference?

Has Erdogan “switched sides again” or is he trying to kick-start the Sochi Peace Conference?

A Russia Truth exclusive article by Adam Garrie

Turkey’s President Erdogan has apparently conducted an about face just weeks after Turkey confirmed that the Syrian government is no longer considered an enemy.

Moments ago, Erdogan stated,
“Assad is definitely a terrorist who has carried out state terrorism… It is impossible to continue with Assad. How can we embrace the future with a Syrian president who has killed close to a million of his citizens?"

Taken at face value, Erdogan seems to be publically renouncing previous, however subtle steps which pointed in the direction of long-term reconciliation with Damascus as facilitated by the Astana format.

However, there could be something more to Erdogan’s overtly offensive statements.
This week, the terrorist group Free Syrian Army, parts of which have long been under Turkey’s patronage, issued a statement saying that they refuse to participate in the forthcoming Sochi peace conference, to be held under the supervision of the Astana peace brokers which include, Russia, Iran and Turkey.

As Turkey remains committed to this format, it seems that Erdogan might be coaxing the FSA, who ‘look up’ to Erdogan, that it might be a prudent move for the FSA to change their mind regarding Astana. Put another way, if Erdogan and the FSA both go into Astana spouting anti-Damascus rhetoric, the terrorist group might feel less isolated while at the negotiating table.

Of course, this brings into question, the wisdom of any peace conference where terrorists sit at the negotiating table, but the fact remains that Russia has made it clear that it would like Sochi to be the beginning of a long but unambiguous process which will lead to the total cessation of violence in Syria and as such, wants as many factions to agree to a permanent ceasefire as possible.

The question therefore remains: has Erdogan once again “switched sides” or is he giving a signal to his FSA followers to come out of the woodwork and appear at Sochi in what approximates good faith, considering there are a violent jihadist group?

The real answer will only be fully known in time, but logically, these are the only two options and because President al-Assad isn’t going anywhere, Erdogan would be foolish to suggest that this is a possibility among a serious audience.

Therefore, one can conclude that his intended audience was not a serious one—it may well have been the terrorist FSA, a group which is as far from a serious audience as one could imagine.

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