President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, agreed on Thursday a joint strategy to end the war in Syria that includes the ouster of that country’s current leader, Bashar al-Assad .
Obama and Erdogan also announced that their governments and others are exchanging data on the use of chemical weapons in Syria which will be presented at the time before the international community to strengthen the case against the Damascus regime.
In a joint press conference, Obama stated that currently his priority is to work with Turkey and other partners in order to “prepare a transition to a representative government,” but recalled that diplomatic and military alternatives are still on the table.
Obama and Erdogan have expressed confidence in the results of the conference on Syria to be held next month in Geneva and which involves Russia, a country that still defends the legitimacy of Assad. Both agreed that the aim of the conference and its current diplomatic activity is to, as Turkish Prime Minister said, “replace the current totalitarian government by a democratic government.”
The U.S. president has admitted that there is a deadline to get it done, but said “the sooner the better”. Obama has said that “there is no magic recipe to get it.
Both he and Erdogan insisted that the most important thing right now is “politically strengthening opposition groups” to avoid chaos after the fall of Assad, and the two pledged to create international pressure that Assad is forced to leave. In that sense, Erdogan has been assessed as “very important” the position of Russia and China.
Turkey has become an indispensable ally for the United States, the second most important, after Israel, in the face of its policy in the Middle East.
It was before the Turkish parliament in Ankara where Obama spoke even before his famous speech in Cairo, where the U.S. president first spoke of a new era of understanding with Muslims.
Turkey’s role grew even more after the outbreak of the Arab Spring, and especially after the fall of Hosni Mubarak and the rise to power in Egypt of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Turkey is therefore now a fundamental part of the new order that America seeks to build on that part of the world. Erdogan has been in Washington and received treatment reserved for the most illustrious visitors, including dinner and press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House.
Obama frequently mentions the Turkish prime minister on the list of his closest friends in the world, and is rare for a month to pass without the two men talking on the phone.
Obama’s intervention is said to have been decisive last month to achieve reconciliation between Turkey and Israel, whose relations were frozen as a result of the episode of the Gaza flotilla in 2010. Or perhaps it was all window-dressing.
In addition to its strategic role as a member of NATO, Turkey shares other interests with the U.S. at the moment, and they are all related to the so-called security of the Middle East, the Balkans and Central Asia and the stability in the Arab world. This, experts say, includes the future of Afghanistan and addressing a nuclear Iran.
Turkey, with a vocation of great power and a story of imperial presence in the area, believes this is the right time to regain influence while the U.S., which currently lacks a reliable ally in the region, — outside the small kingdom of Jordan — needs Turkey to gain credibility and access to a set of countries in which its role is declining.
This partnership is urgently needed now because of the civil war in Syria, a country with which Turkey has border and whose future is called to play.
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Contributed by Luis Miranda of The Real Agenda.
Luis R. Miranda is the Founder and Editor of The Real Agenda. His 16 years of experience in Journalism include television, radio, print and Internet news. Luis obtained his Journalism degree from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica, where he graduated in Mass Media Communication in 1998. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcasting from Montclair State University in New Jersey. Among his most distinguished interviews are: Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres and James Hansen from NASA Space Goddard Institute.