Former Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis, one of Turkey’s longest-serving diplomats, said the situation between Turkey and Syria might actually get worse if President Bashar al-Assad leaves or is overthrown because chaos will hurt Syria first and Turkey second. “The Syrian question is more complex than we all think” and the answer is not foreign military intervention, but a negotiated solution with the Assad regime, he said in an interview with Al-Monitor Washington correspondent Barbara Slavin on Wednesday. Yakis, an expert on the Arab world who helped establish the ruling AKP party in 2001, criticized Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for breaking diplomatic ties with Syria last year and went so far as to say that the June 22 Syrian shoot-down of a Turkish military plane could enable the two countries to restore channels of communication. Excerpts of the interview follow:
Al-Monitor: How do you think Erdogan is handling the shoot-down and will he be able to prevent the outbreak of real hostilities with Syria?