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Erdoğan sends Turkish FM to up pressure on Syria
1.       tunci
7149 posts
 08 Aug 2011 Mon 12:56 pm

Erdoğan sends Turkish FM to up pressure on Syria

Sibel Utku Bila
PM Erdoğan’s statement that Ankara’s patience with Syria is running out draws harsh response from Damascus, ahead of the Turkish foreign minister´s visit
´The process from now on will take shape according to the response [al-Assad] will give and the practices on the ground,´ Erdoğan said Saturday.
´The process from now on will take shape according to the response [al-Assad] will give and the practices on the ground,´ Erdoğan said Saturday

Turkey plans to deliver a final warning to Syria, saying that it must end the bloodshed sweeping the country and introduce reforms or Ankara will join international measures against the regime, officials said Sunday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu will go to Damascus on Tuesday to deliver this warning following the harshest reaction yet from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the deadly unrest sweeping Syria. Erdoğan said Saturday that Ankara’s patience with the situation was running out and that Davutoğlu would convey “a resolute message” to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that he risks losing Turkey’s support.

Damascus hit back Sunday, adding to the bilateral chill ahead of the visit, but a Turkish Foreign Ministry official said Davutoğlu’s visit would go ahead barring a last-minute change.

If Davutoğlu “is to deliver a firm message to Syria, he will hear a firmer reply regarding the Turkish stance, which didn’t condemn the brutal killings and crimes committed by armed terrorist groups against civilians, the military and police members till now,” Syrian presidential advisor Bouthina Shaaban said, according to the official Sana news agency.

“Syria has always welcomed consultation among friends, but it categorically rejects all regional or international attempts of interference in its internal affairs,” Shaaban added.

The outcome of Davutoğlu’s meeting with al-Assad will determine the course of Turkish policy vis-a-vis Syria, Turkish officials said, signaling that Ankara has come close to abandoning the Syrian president and considering international measures that may lead to his “Saddam-like” isolation.

“The process from now on will take shape according to the response [al-Assad] will give and the practices on the ground,” Erdoğan said Saturday. “Our patience is running thin… We do not see the Syria issue as an external one. It is an internal issue for us. We share a border of 850 kilometers, we have kinship, historical and cultural ties and … we cannot just watch what is happening there.”

Davutoğlu “is going [to Damascus] to deliver a warning … a very sharp message,” a senior diplomat who asked not to be named told the Hürriyet Daily News, dismissing reforms announced by Damascus so far as “a few minor things.”

Toward a Saddam-like isolation?

“[Turkey and Syria] will sit down and talk for one last time … even though one should not exclude dialogue, even in wartime,” another Foreign Ministry official said. “The talks will show whether the ties will be cut loose or not … If a new [Turkish] policy is to be outlined on Syria – that’s the last meeting.”

The official stressed that Turkey’s position would influence the course of international action against Damascus.

The situation here is not like the one in Libya. No one can do anything on Syria without Turkey… I don’t think that military action against Syria is likely but the process may lead to an embargo, isolation and a Saddam [Hussein]-like situationfor al-Assad, he said.

Thus far, Ankara has stopped short of calling for al-Assad’s departure, arguing that a democratic transition should take place under his leadership.

By turning against al-Assad, Turkey would face deterioration in ties with its southern neighbor, which had flourished in recent years. The turmoil has already hit trade links between the two countries and led to an exodus to Turkey of thousands of Syrians fleeing bloodshed in their country.

In a gloomy reminder to al-Assad, Erdoğan on Saturday made a veiled reference to fallen Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak, who recently appeared before a Cairo court, confined to a cage and lying on a stretcher.

“Those who sent scores of Muslims to the gallows are not up on their feet now and look where they are going on a stretcher … Those who do not learn a lesson will suffer,” Erdoğan said.

“What mind, what conscience would accept the repetition of great suffering in that wounded city on a Ramadan day? Whom are you making happy by spraying your people with bullets?” the Turkish prime minister said, referring to a deadly Syrian security crackdown on the city of Hama during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Also Saturday, both Erdoğan and Davutoğlu held talks in Istanbul with Walid Jumblutt, the leader of Lebanon’s Druze community, to discuss developments in Syria and the region, the Anatolia news agency reported

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