Husni Mahalli might be the most knowledgeable Turkish journalist of Syrian origins with the Turkish – Syrian relations, and used to be very close to the decision makers inner circle in both countries.
In a recent talk show on Lebanese al-Mayadeen News Channel, Mr. Mahalli had very stark warnings to the Syrian government about Erdogan’s New Ottomans heart and soul policy of re-colonization of countries the predecessors of the Calipha wannabe Erdogan took by force and by deceit using Islamic state as a cover.
Mr. Mahalli, who was jailed by Erdogan’s strict anti-Free speech policies and is undergoing trials on bail due to his health issues, also criticized the Russian diplomacy, politics, tactics with the Turks, wondering how many times would the Russians miscalculate the Turkish moves in Syria on the Syrian people’s account.
The Idlib Agreement should be the last test of Turkey’s willingness to fulfill their part of any agreement, and they failed, they missed the deadline and are not doing anything positive in that matter. Mr. Mahalli said. Don’t make the same mistake again and again, he warned.
The following is a compilation of his contribution in the talk show, compiled by Syrian Activist Omar George Ali and English-Captioned by Syria News:
Turkey was thinking, and I believe they still think, despite the latest agreement in Moscow, that it (Turkey) still plans and thinks about something other than what’s going on or what’s declared in the official agreements and discussions, because at the end, and as the author of the editorial of the largest newspaper in Turkey (name of journalist and name of newspaper) that President Erdogan from the beginning of the (Syrian) crisis in 2011 was and still thinking and plotting to carve out part of the Syrian territories, because he believes and thinks that Syria was part of the Ottoman state.
Finally, in the declarations from Moscow today (date of the talk show), both Russian and Turkish parties the termination of terror and terrorist organizations, as said.
The Turkish definition of terror, as we know, are the Kurdish People Protection Units, as for Russia, it’s Nusra Front, ISIS and such organizations.
As for the Syrian state, why don’t we talk about the Syrian state, it sees in all the organizations which cooperate with Turkey now, the Free Army, as all are terrorists.
Therefore, these categorizations and definitions, I believe it’s diplomatic and each party has its own plans and project which waits the proper time.
The cause of the Kurdish crisis northeast Syria for over 600 kilometres of border areas with Turkey, is mainly Turkish and President Erdogan in particular, because he is the one who invited the leader of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party to Ankara and asked him to mutiny against the government in Damascus.
But when Saleh Muslim rejected that until June 2015 the relations between Syrian Kurds and Turkey broke apart, and the Kurds became enemies. This pushed Saleh Muslim and other Kurdish leaders there to ask for help from the USA, which was at that time ‘fighting ISIS’ in that region.
Therefore, Ankara is the reason for the current situation in northeast Syria, that’s first. Secondly, it’s very logically that the USA says it supports the Kurdish units against ISIS, because ISIS exists in the area, and still exists in the areas near Der Ezzor.
And the reason why the Kurds were not invited to hand over their heavy weapons, I believe it’s proper, because the Kurds are the ones defending that area now, but when the Americans withdraw from the region, I believe there will not be a problem between the Kurds and the Syrian state, I don’t believe there will be.
The Kurds have made many mistakes, and many many times, after now when the Americans withdraw from the area, I don’t believe they will face the Syrian state and the Syrian Arab Army when they are Syrian citizens and living in Syria, especially when there’s another enemy in the north, which is Turkey.
And now there are the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMU) on the Iraqi – Syrian borders. There is strategic Iraqi and Syrian coordination and cooperation.
There are many elements not in favour of the Kurds in northern Syria.
Frankly, if the Russians think to enter such an exchange with Turkey, then I, Husni Mahalli, see in that a fail of the Russian diplomacy in Syria, despite all the military tactics that some talk about, because when the Russians allowed Turkey in August 2016 to Enter Jarabulus they are facing now a problem in the relationship with Turkey which extended from Jarabulus to Afrin and Idlib.
Idlib’s Agreement was supposed to be fulfilled by the end of October and it wasn’t fulfilled and it will not be fulfilled, this is my personal opinion, at least will not be fulfilled in the Russian favor.
Therefore, Manbij to become another Idlib, in one way or another, this will also mean a defeat to the Russian political, or diplomacy, or military tactics in Syria.
Secondly, to think of any military operation east of the Euphrates, as it was said today in the statements of Lavrov and Cavusoglu, that Russia will acknowledge a new Turkish influence east of the Euphrates, and that’s more dangerous.
Frankly, I don’t think, and I don’t want to think, that Damascus has approved or would approve such strategic mistakes, this is impossible, because Turkey, at least by its media, the media loyal to Erdogan, Turkey is thinking differently as some still think that Syria is an internal Turkish matter, I mean the Syrian situation in northern Syria.
What is the logic that Turkey would interfere in Manbij? Manbij is a Syrian city, 99% of its population are Arabs, and I’m from Jarabulus and we’re neighbors with Manbij and I know the city very well, what is the problem if the Syrian Arab Army enters Manbij? And what is the threat Manbij posed to the Turkish national security?
Here we can see the conflict of interests, it seems the US started talking about the Turkish rushing towards Russia, the US rushed its withdrawal upon a phone call as it was presented between the US and Turkish presidents, there’s a conflict of interests, the USA does not want the Syrian Arab Army to enter that area for strategic considerations throughout the whole region, and here the importance of Manbij, and even Idlib, emerges in settling these two matters on the region’s level…
No, no, dear Ramia, I don’t believe that. I believe there’s a regional and international agreement. If it wasn’t for that, how would the United Arab Emirates reopen its embassy in Damascus? How would Bahrain think? Saudi?
How would King Salman think of changing his minister of foreign affairs who used to dream each night of the fall of President Assad?
There are very important regional issues developing. It’s not about one element of Manbij only, I don’t believe that.
Dr. Mahalli, is Turkey practising a hypocrite policy in regards to ‘preserving the integrity and sovereignty of Syria? The subject of prices, Mr. Rantawi mentioned, is very important, especially in the political settlement.
If we refer to the point of the change in the views of the UAE, Saudi Arabia of the political settlements in Syria, which is against the Muslim Brotherhood and against the Turkish view of the political settlement and embedding this element (Muslim Brotherhood) within the government of Syria?
What are the prices? What is the roadmap? What is acceptable now? And would that be determined in the upcoming summit in Moscow?
This has to do not only with the Turkish – Russian – Iranian summit, with Bolton’s visit to Ankara and next to Israel, it also is connected with the latest statements by Turkish officials who indicated to the possibility of canceling the Russian – Turkish deal of S400.
It also has to do with the return of the Turkish American traditional love in general, especially that Turkey sees in Saudi, UAE and Bahrain as real enemies, and they are dangerous for the Turkish national and strategic security, considering these countries are supported by Egypt.
And Turkey sees in the movements of these countries and the potential movement of Egypt towards Syria prior to the Arab summit in Tunisia end of March, all of these considerations with no doubt push Turkey to hold on its cards.
What are these cards? Or what is the price, as you asked frankly? Turkey wants the expected political solution in Syria according to its favour, in its interest.
Meaning, its favor is the favor of Muslim Brotherhood. Its interests are the Turkmen, the Turkmen in Syria.
Thirdly, its plans, its belief, its strategy is that the north of Syria is an extension of Turkish south, that everything that happens in this area has to do with Turkey and Turkish opinion must be taken in consideration.
Finally, which is most important, that who will decide on Syria’s destiny and future, it’s not only the Syrian people, Syrian state, President Assad and the Syrian Arab Army but also Turkey.
Meaning, Turkey should contribute in an effective way in the Constitutional Committee, Turkey should be effectively involved all over in regards with the upcoming presidential and parliament elections in Syria, considering that 3.5 million Syrians reside here (in Turkey) and that Turkey controls the Turkish – Syrian borderline and there are 3 more millions, this is 6 to 7 million.
There are others in Daraa, Homs, Hama, and elsewhere, all of those as what Ankara thinks, are all loyal to Erdogan.
This is the strategy Erdogan thinks of in his special plans for Syria, and I believe he will not abandon this.
What will be Damascus’s response, politically and militarily, in your opinion?
I’m in Istanbul, if I was in Damascus I would be able to say what would be the response of Damascus.
I’m asking about your opinion in the analysis, based on this information. You have plenty of articles since the beginning of the crisis until now. One of your troubles was how Turkey was handling the Syrian issue, it is one of your troubles in the trials (in Turkey), Dr. Mahalli.
The trials are continuing. Whenever I even say a single sentence about Turkish policies in Syria I find myself standing a trial. This is another subject.
I’m just asking you, to make it easier for you, on how Damascus would respond?
I hope that even such interviews are not a problem for the Turkish justice system!
Anyways, we are journalists, it is our right to say what we think of however the price for that is high.
Shortly, the Syrian subject matter, and what Damascus should do? This should be within what has been agreed upon between President Bashar Al-Assad and President Vladimir Putin in 2017, prior to the launch of Astana (framework). And the first meeting between Putin and Erdogan in Sochi. Because what happened there behind closed doors is what’s important.
At the end, I believe that President Assad approved what has been agreed upon between Erdogan and Putin at that time, because he was not in a good situation, in Daraa, in Homs, in Damascus, and elsewhere in Syria.
Now he (President Assad) is in a very strong position, not only militarily as he managed to clean all these areas (from terrorists), in a very strong position because the Arab states started reconsidering its position, the Americans decided to withdraw from east of Syria, whether a tactic or not, it’s a victory for the Syrian state, and a victory for President Assad.
I believe that Syria should not consider any new concession, and the results of the last concession in Idlib are very obvious, I do not wish to talk in details, Idlib, in my opinion is the last, and should be the last, strategic test between Russia and Damascus, and consequently in any concessions Damascus would give to any party, whether to Russia, Turkey, or Iran, or any other party including the Arab states, in regards with its sovereignty over the last inch of the Syrian state before 2011.
End of English transcript.