Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has lashed out at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and also Syrian Kurds, in a speech he addressed to mayors of Syrian provinces, bianet reported on February 18.
Assad, a close ally of Erdogan prior to 2011, called Erdogan as “a small US pawn” and he also accused him of being “Ikhwanji”, a member of the Sunni Islamist organisation Muslim Brotherhood, which is considered as terrorist organisation by Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the UAE and Bahrain since 2015.
"Turkey is pushing for the same they had been calling for since the first year of the war, but the Americans didn't allow them and told them to stay put because back then they had terrorists to carry out their plans," Assad also said.
"The Americans will not protect you... you will be a bargaining chip in their pocket along with the dollars they have, and they have already started bargaining. If you don't prepare yourselves to defend your country, you will be mere slaves to the Ottomans," Assad also addressed Syrian Kurds in his speech.
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Erdogan, during one of their routine summit meetings in Moscow, to revive the landmark 1998 Adana accord between Syria and Turkey that normalised ties for two decades before 2011.
Syria said on January 26 it stood ready to revive the Adana accord if Ankara pulled its troops out of the northwest of the war-torn country and stopped backing rebels.
Turkey has troops in the last opposition-held enclaves in northwest Syria. Turkish troops also monitor a buffer zone in north-western Idlib province under a deal with Russia and Iran.
On February 3, Erdogan, who has called for Assad to be overthrown since 2011, confirmed that his government was holding low-level talks with the Syrian government.
Parties in the eight-year-old Syrian Civil War have been discussing a new balance to be set after the US President Donald Trump abruptly decided in December to withdraw all 2,000 US troops from Syria. Trump’s unexpected decision cemented Putin’s hand in Syria.
Western diplomatic sources said the timing of Putin’s proposal to revive the Adana deal signalled a move to counter Trump’s recent call to set up a safe zone along the border inside Syria to support the Kurds, Reuters reported last month.
Syria did not mention how it would deal with the US-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara says is an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The YPG has established a Kurdish-led authority that runs much of northern and eastern Syria and governs millions of ethnic Arabs in former Islamic State territory where most of Syria’s oil wealth lies.
Erdogan expects his US and Russian allies, Trump and Putin, to help him set up a safe zone in Syria along the Turkish border urgently, otherwise he threatens to establish the zone alone.
Moscow and Tehran back Assad, while Erdogan and the US are aligned with various rebel groups — with Erdogan staunchly opposed to the US alliances with Kurdish militants among those groups.
The US has said the Kurds have proved to be a reliable fighting force in the battle to wipe out Islamic State, but the Turks see them as a “terrorist” threat aligned with the proscribed PKK, which for decades fought an insurgency campaign in Turkey. Washington and Ankara have exchanged angry words over US demands that the Kurds are not attacked by the Turks once the American military leaves Syria, but talks are continuing in an effort at finding a solution acceptable to all parties.
Meanwhile, YPG is holding talks with Assad regime and the US officials are stressing that US support would end if it strikes a deal with Assad.
More than 400,000 people are thought to have lost their lives in the war and millions have been displaced. Some historical sites have been devastated.