People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said that Turkish government should make contact with the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. “The way to make peace between Turkey and Syria, to create rapprochement between the two countries and to jointly focus on maintaining [Syria’s] territorial integrity is [to establish] dialogue between Turkey and Syria. We should engage with Syria one way or another if we do not want terror organizations finding shelter in this country”, Kılıçdaroğlu told the Ankara bureau chiefs of media outlets on Jan. 29. The CHP has announced its support to the operation but has also reiterated criticism of the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) policies since the beginning of turmoil in Syria in March 2011. Kılıçdaroğlu accused the AKP of jumping into what he calls “the Middle East swamp” by intervening into Syria’s internal affairs, accusing the government of helping the YPG gain international legitimacy. Kılıçdaroğlu also voiced discomfort for the participation of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), drawn from various opposition groups mainly of Sunni Arabs and Turkmens. His remarks followed CHP deputy Öztürk Yılmaz’s statement that the FSA is “partially made up of jihadist terrorists” including al-Qaeda and al-Nusra militants. Meanwhile, Kılıçdaroğlu revealed that he plans to visit to Damascus in the coming period, in order to help restore broken ties between Turkey and Syria. Kılıçdaroğlu reiterated his expectation that the government could opt to call early presidential and parliamentary elections this year, warning that “Operation Olive Branch” must not be “politicized” for political gain.
During a meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Turkish Minister of Customs and Trade Bulent