Coalition support for al-Bab operation insufficient: Turkish Deputy Prime Minister

Numan Kurtulmus, Deputy Prime Minister and Government Spokesperson

Speaking to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency (AA), Government Spokesperson and Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus has said that his party will immediately begin work on their campaign for the referendum on the constitutional reforms that were proposed by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and adopted by the Turkish Parliament with the support of the Nationalist Action Party (MHP).

Kurtulmus told AA, “In all likelihood, we will run a campaign that will be based on the fundamental idea that this is not a regime change, it is a change of system, it is about bringing an effective model of government to a growing, developing, strong Turkey. Especially with the fight against terrorism in the past few months, the campaign will be run in a way that shows an executive model that allows for quicker decision making that will enable us to defeat terrorism. If the “yes” campaign succeeds in the referendum, then terrorism will end in Turkey. I hope the majority of our people will support our campaign by saying “yes” and that the new constitution will be adopted.”

Kurtulmus went on to say, “even if a yes vote comes out of the referendum, the system will not change until the 2019 presidential elections. Until 2019 the prime ministerial system will continue. In 2019, both the presidential elections and the parliamentary elections will be held on the same day.”

Presidential system centralises all executive powers in one place

Referring to the powers given to the president in the new constitution, Kurtulmus claimed, “The president will have a cabinet and ministers, and with statutory decree laws will have the opportunity to make quicker decisions. However, the president will be faced with effective control mechanisms and will be held accountable. Turkey will be able to make quicker decisions with the removal of certain mechanisms, especially in the economic field; Turkey will be able to continue on its path with stronger steps forward.

“Of course, without a prime minister, some of the responsibilities previously endowed upon the prime minister will be transferred to the president. The double-headed character of executive power in the current constitution is evident, while some executive powers reside with the president, the majority lie with the prime minister. A double-headed executive is being abolished and a singular executive mechanism is being established. And this is what is called ‘the Presidential system’. Therefore, this is not a presidential system that endows the president with new, extraordinary powers; it is a system that endows and centralises all the current executive powers in one place.”

Coalition support for al-Bab operation very insufficient

Speaking on the Euphrates Shield Operation, Kurtulmus said, “This operation has not been undertaken to clear the area and give it back to the regime. We said it at the very beginning, the Euphrates Shield is an operation about the national security of Turkey. It is an operation to protect the borders of Turkey and to eradicate any threat to Turkey from just south of the border. The town of al-Bab has been occupied by forces that are not from the region. Turkey’s primary aim is for these forces to be removed, and for the people of al-Bab to be able to live in their homes peacefully and securely. Unfortunately, the support of the coalition forces to Turkey’s effort in al-Bab has been very insufficient. I have no concerns in expressing this openly. We are still not being supported.”

Obama administration had no plan

On Syria, the Deputy Prime Minister claimed that the former US President Barack Obama had no plan on how to solve the Syrian crisis and went onto say, “hopefully the new administration will support solutions that will benefit the people of both Iraq and Syria.”