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'Normalization' with Assad is the new normal in Turkey

Comments by Turkey's foreign minister hinting at normalization with Damascus drove hundreds of Syrians across Turkish-occupied areas of northern Syria to stage demonstrations.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) listens on as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a joint press conference at al-Shaab palace in Damascus on Oct. 11, 2010.
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The chorus of Turkish officialdom calling for engagement with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is growing louder by the day. The moves are calculated to draw votes ahead of elections and weaken Kurdish aspirations for autonomy. They are backed by Russia as it seeks to drive wedges between Turkey and its Western foes.

On Monday, Devlet Bahceli, leader of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s top coalition ally, said he considered the steps taken by Turkey regarding Syria to be “valuable and fortuitous.” Bahceli was responding to last week’s announcement by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that he had spoken, albeit briefly, with his Syrian counterpart, Faisal al-Mekdad, in Belgrade in October last year. Not only that, communication had resumed between their intelligence officials, Turkey’s top diplomat revealed.

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