Turkish PM Asks Bashar al-Assad To Step Down
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday lashed out at the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, demanding of him to “leave that seat” for the “welfare of your people and the region.” In a speech intended to increase the already high pressure on Syria’s regime, Erdogan compared Assad’s grip on power to the desperate attempts of dictators like Muammar al-Qaddafi, in Libya, Nicolae Ceausesc, in Romania, Mussolini in Italy and Hitler in Germany.
The PM reminded his former friend and ally that Muammar al-Qaddafi met a gruesome end 32 days ago, after using the same expression of fighting to the death. This words come after the Syrian forces opened fire on two buses carrying Turkish butchers who had attended a Muslim feast of sacrifice in Saudi Arabia. Two Turkish people were reported killed in that border incident.
In a separate attack, on Tuesday the Syrian forces were reported to have killed at least 13 people in the center of the country, most of them in Homs, the place where the unrest against Bashar al-Assad began.
UN believes that the number of people killed by the security troops since the beginning of the conflict eight months ago is coming close to 4,000. In an interview for The Sunday Times, given over the weekend, Bashar al-Assad dismissed the numbers, saying that they were exaggerations of the opposition.
In his opinion, mistakes had been made by the military in the field in the process of dealing with the “armed thugs,” but the responsible for these crimes are being held in custody, awaiting for their punishment.
Assad said in the interview that only 619 people have been killed, some of them in the crossfire between army and the “thugs,” some in sectarian violence, while some because they were supporting the regime.
In addition, Assad said that 800 troopers have been killed, either by “thugs” or by the defectors from the army. In the same interview he reiterated the determination to continue the military operation until the situation was under control, accusing the Arab League, which set a three-day deadline which expired on Saturday during which time he was expected to end violence, of creating a pretext for the Western countries to launch an invasion in Syria.
He reiterated that such an invasion would be a mistake and would shake up the entire world, restating his determination to die for his country, words on which he was taken up by the Turkish PM, who compared them to the boasts of the Libyan former leader Qaddafi, who, in his own way, promised to fight to the death against “invaders.”
Erdogan’s words come after a series of warnings Turkey has issued referring to the situation in Syria. Turkey was the state which took in many of the Syrian refugees when the crackdown began in Syria. Most of the people were camped in camps along the border.
Turkey also received the defectors from the Free Syrian Army, who said, in a statement that grew in numbers to the point of having 15,000 soldiers fighting against the regime. The defectors attacked a military base of the Syrian army and were said to have attacked the headquarters of the Baath party, an information they dismissed, saying that their army would never attack civilians.
It was in Istanbul that the Syrian National Council, the most important opposition organization mirroring the Libya’s Transitional National Council, was formed. Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu was the first official to meet with the SNC after the council received symbolic recognition from their Libyan counterpart.
In an interview for The Guardian Erdogan said that until few months ago he used to speak to the Syrian president Assad regularly, and that during the talks he was advising him to organize free elections, to free political prisoners and announce a timeframe for reforms.
He expressed hope that in the end the oppressed in Syria will win, because the country is in a dead end and something must be done for it to get on the right track again.11