Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has directed harsh criticism at the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) for their reluctance in supporting a resolution to send Turkish troops abroad.
The resolution was adopted in Parliament in early October with the cooperation of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in the aftermath of a mortar shell that hit the Turkish town of Akçakale on the Syrian border. Five Turkish citizens were killed and eight others were wounded in the attack.
The mandate authorizing the government to send, if need be, Turkish troops to Syria received 320 “yes” votes and 129 “no” votes in Parliament, but also received harsh criticism from the main opposition CHP and the pro-Kurdish BDP.
Addressing his party deputies in Parliament on Tuesday, Erdoğan said the “CHP is riding on the coattails of the BDP,” in a criticism of the cooperation between the two parties against the mandate. “It is not possible to understand how the CHP has become blind due to the love it has for [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad,” he added. Erdoğan also said the main opposition party preferred to protect Assad and his army rather than Turkey and its people. “The people getting killed [as a result of the Syrian mortar strikes] are our citizens. They are our people, aren't they?” he asked.
According to the prime minister, Parliament adopted the mandate so as not to leave any external attacks targeting Turkey unanswered. He said mortar shells fired by the Syrian army had landed on Turkish territory in the past but did not claim any lives. “Were you expecting us to remain silent, Mr. [Kemal] Kılıçdaroğlu?” Erdoğan asked the CHP leader, adding, “You might tolerate such things [attacks] but we will not.”
Erdoğan also spoke about the ongoing acts of violence and fierce clashes between pro-Assad and opposition forces in Syria, noting that Assad's reign was almost over. “Assad's [rule] has almost ended. Assad is standing upright with crutches. He will fall down when the crutches no longer exist,” he said, adding that Turkey would continue to stand by the Syrian people when Assad's rule is over.
The prime minister also praised his government's foreign policy, which he said was aimed at making Turkey's voice heard in all platforms around the world. He also addressed the critics of Turkey's foreign policy, saying: “We are not expecting those who view the world with blinkers on to understand and appreciate our vision of foreign policy. We know that our people understand us and appreciate the steps we take [in foreign politics].”
Erdoğan also said that cooperation between Turkey and other countries was not dependant on those countries' sectarian identities. “Those [political leaders] who were thrown out of power during the Arab Spring [uprisings] were mainly Sunnis. We did not support them, or any other dictators or cruel leaders just because of their Sunni identity,” he stated. Erdoğan's remarks were in response to Kılıçdaroğlu's earlier claims that the AK Party government was opposed to Assad because he is an Alawite.