Syria: Erdogan takes his hand from Assad

After almost 3000 people fled from northern Syria to Turkey, PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken his hand from Bashar al-Assad.

In an interview with Anatolia news agency Erdogan issued this rebuke of the Assad regime – “Unfortunately, they [the regime of President Bashar al-Assad] are acting in an inhumane way…the savagery right now… think about it, the images they are playing in the heads of the women they kill is so ugly, these images are hard to eat, hard to swallow…”. During the interview PM Erdogan described what was taking place in Syria against pro-democracy protesters as “atrocity”, “inhumane”, “unpalatable” and “unacceptable”. A hard spin even for hard spinning SANA (here, here and here).

Finally Erdogan stated that Turkey might support the UN resolution currently being discussed in United Nations Security Council.

Now cynics might see this only as a political posturing. On Sunday Turkey will elect a new parliament. Predications give AKP either a safe majority or a hung parliament. To be seen as ‘soft on Syria’ under current circumstances with some 3000 Syrians fleeing to Turkey is an excellent way of weakening the position of AKP. Another indication that Turkey is trying to contain, isolate the issue of those Syrian fleeing to Turkey is that they are not allowed to speak to media. With their voices, for now, silenced AKP chill this election issue somewhat.

But the fact that Turkey under the leadership of Gül, Erdogan and Davotuglu has pushed for a close cooperation with Syria, especially in economic issue and opening up the border by revoking the visa scheme. This as been a spectacular failure, not economically but by revealing that the Syrian regime, that AKP has teamed up with are butchers and Bashar al-Assad, who Erdogan has proclaimed to be his friend is either is a sock-puppet or a thug. This reflects badly both on AKP and on Erdogan. And it has been proven that Turkey does not have the clout that they though they had over the Syria regime.

If we look back to early May this is what Erdogan then had to say about what was going on in Syria: “Eventually, the UN Security Council will discuss the incidents in Syria. Syria should not face another massacre like the one in Hama in 1982. I urged President al-Assad to be extremely sensitive about it. If such a massacre is carried out once again, Syria cannot deal with its consequences. Because, the international community will display a harsh reaction. And, Turkey will have to fulfill our responsibilities in such a situation”. Now, with Syrians feeling to Turkey what looks like a very brutal crackdown in Jisr al-Shughour we are at such a point in time that Erdogan foreshadowed on 2 May.

This, the continuing and escalating crackdown and atrocities by the Syrian regime, the continuing promises of reform that never materialized by Assad to Erdogan, Davutoğlu and the Turkish ambassador to Syria and the refugee crises has now taken the Syrian Turkish relations to a breaking point. We can expect that Turkey will throw its weight behind the UN resolution condemning Syria. This might have a profound effect on states like South Africa, India and Brazil who at present have voiced skepticism in voting in favor of such a resolution.

About Leif Eriksson

Leif Eriksson has worked in the field of asylum at the Swedish Migration Agency specializing in the Middle East, Schengen and the Dublin Regulation, as Migration Attaché and head of the migration section at the Swedish Embassy in Damascus 2005 - 2008, as a resettlement consultant at the UNHCR branch office in Damascus 2008 - 2009, Consul at the Swedish Consulate General in Jerusalem 2012 - 2013 and associate RSD/RST officer at UNHCR in Beirut 2013 - 2014. He currently lives in Tbilisi, Georgia.
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