ISTANBUL, Turkey - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has lashed out at claims by pro-Syrian regime media outlets that Turkey, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have become the enemy of the Syrian people, saying Turkey is against the Syrian president’s actions, not the people.
“What has happened to make these three countries [Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey] Syria’s enemies? We are absolutely not the enemy of Syria or its people. We do not approve of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s actions, and we are enemies of his actions,” Erdoğan told Doha-based Al Jazeera during his visit to Qatar last week.
He defined the media reports accusing Turkey of becoming an enemy of the Syrian people as “contradictory” because the leaders of these three states had good relations with Syria until recently. Erdoğan said Turkey doesn’t approve of the Syrian regime’s crackdown on protesters because it is not “humanitarian or Islamic.” The Assad regime’s crackdown on a popular uprising is estimated to have killed more than 9,000 people over the past 13 months.
Erdoğan added that mercilessly killing defenseless people is a result of an autocratic mentality. He said Turkey cannot accept the actions of this regime and that this is the primary reason why Turkish and Syrian authorities are at odds right now. The Turkish prime minister also asserted that whatever Turkey is doing is aimed at helping the Syrian people and that Turkey will continue to help the Syrians. Erdoğan stated that Damascus has turned a blind eye to Turkey’s calls for reform for some time and as a result the chaos in the country has become an international crisis.
The Syrian government consistently blames “terror groups” for the killings, just as it blames the country’s turmoil in general on terrorists, denying there is a popular-based uprising. The regime says more than 2,000 members of the military and security forces have been killed in the past year, almost all of them in rebel attacks on checkpoints or convoys, or in shootouts. The last time Syria saw any such major string of assassinations was in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the Muslim Brotherhood waged a campaign of violence against Assad’s predecessor and father, Hafez Assad. One of the most notorious attacks came on June 16, 1979, when gunmen killed dozens of cadets at the Aleppo Artillery School in northern Syria. The dead were mostly Alawites, the sect to which the Assad family belongs. Hafez Assad eventually responded with a three-week siege of the main Brotherhood stronghold, the city of Hama, leveling parts of the city. Amnesty International has estimated that 10,000-25,000 were killed in the Hama assault and that the Brotherhood was all but wiped out in the country.
Persistent bloodshed has tarnished efforts by UN observers to salvage a Syria truce that started to unravel almost as soon as it began on April 12 initiated by UN mediator Kofi Annan.
Source: Today’s Zaman