The Turkish government made it known on Wednesday they could accept a transition period for Syria where President Bashar al-Assad stays in power for six months before another person takes over.
“Work on a plan for Assad’s departure is under way… (Assad) can stay for six months and we accept that because there will be a guarantee of his departure,” one source told Reuters. “We have moved forward on the issue to a certain degree with the United States and our other allies. There is not an exact consensus on when the six-month period would begin, but we think it won’t be too long.”
Turkish officials make it no secret they vehemently oppose the Assad regime. It took them over a year to join the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), but numerous reports say they have used their resources to target the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) instead.
Over the summer, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attempted to persuade other nations to join Assad to defeat radical Islamic groups in Syria. All of them turned him down. France has made it clear their government wants Assad to leave right away, but Germany is open to stay in a transitional phase.
The remarks come on the day Assad traveled to Russia to visit with President Vladimir Putin, his biggest ally. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said he wishes Assad would stay in Moscow.
“We think the Syrian government has no legitimacy left and our thoughts on this subject have not changed …There must be a transition in Syria which secures Assad’s departure,” he said. “Russia has already openly displayed its support with its intervention. What can I say. If only he would stay longer in Moscow so the Syrian people can be at ease, or if only he could stay there permanently and a real transition period could begin.”
Assad’s trip is the first since his country broke out in a civil war in 2011. Putin invited the beleaguered president, who thanked the Kremlin for their support.
“First of all I wanted to express my huge gratitude to the whole leadership of the Russian Federation for the help they are giving Syria,” stated Assad. “If it was not for your actions and your decisions the terrorism which is spreading in the region would have swallowed up a much greater area and spread over an even greater territory.”
Putin phoned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after the meeting, who “expressed his concerns over the Syrian military’s recent strikes in Aleppo” and reminded the Kremlin everyone needs to target “‘all terrorist groups,’ underlining the link between the” PKK and People’s Protection Unit (YPG), the Kurdish armed services.