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MURAT YETKİN > A farcical meeting in Tehran, as the Syrian situation worsens

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The Syrian military launched its expected operation against the country’s second-largest and most historical city of Aleppo yesterday, Aug. 8. It was sad to see pictures of the once-posh Al-Salahaddin district destroyed and deserted.

The number of refugees fleeing from Aleppo and towns further north to the Turkish border 50 kilometers away is on rise, reportedly exceeding 50,000 by yesterday. Turkish officials have already announced that they are preparing to host at least 100,000.

Ankara is waiting for U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to arrive for talks about Syria over the weekend. By that time the Turkish government will have reviewed its game plan, to discuss it with the Americans.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu left Turkey yesterday for Myanmar to demonstrate support for Muslims there, together with Emine Erdoğan, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan’s wife, and a symbolic humanitarian aid mission. 

Under other circumstances, Turkey might have considered attending a Syria conference organized by Iran to find a way for Bashar al-Assad to settle with the opposition groups and retain his seat. But for three main reasons, Ankara skipped it.

First, ignoring the worsening situation in Syria, Iran vowed to back al-Assad all the way down when Saeed Jalili, the head of National Security Council, visited Damascus on Aug. 7.

Secondly, after Russia, the main pillar the Baathist regime in Damascus had to lean on, began sending the messages that it would be really difficult for Assad to remain in power, it may be too late to give al-Assad a last chance, since almost every player but Iran has begun to work on post-al-Assad scenarios.
And thirdly, earlier on the same day that Jalili gave Iran’s full support to the Syrian regime, Iran’s Chief of General Staff Gen. Hasan Firouzabadi said he held Turkey, together with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to be responsible for the situation in Syria, and claimed it might be Turkey’s turn for turmoil next.

But just a few hours before, Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi had taken off for Turkey to ask for Ankara’s help with the rescue of 48 Iranians (of whom he later admitted that some were “retired” members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards) kidnapped by rebels in Syria. Before Salehi arrived in Ankara, the Turkish Foreign Ministry had issued a very bitter statement against Iran due to Firouzabadi’s statement. Salehi got a promise of help with the rescue operation, but accompanied by a lot of long faces. 

Erdoğan delivered a speech Tuesday night denouncing Iran for being unfaithful and giving hidden support to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is waging an armed campaign against Turkey, and asking Tehran to behave honestly.

The summit in Tehran sounds really farcical: Iran will be discussing how to keep al-Assad in his position with a handful of Latin American and African countries.

The Syrian military operation in Aleppo is likely to claim far more lives, and result in more refugees and ruined cities, but it is not likely to save al-Assad for too much longer.

August/09/2012

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Red Tail

8/9/2012 7:13:15 PM

Hakan. So you thnk that the West should invade Saudi? If they west does not start an invasion of Saudi, they are hypocrites? Hmmmmmmm

joe Maddin

8/9/2012 6:32:33 PM

The real "farcical' meetings were the numerous and poumpous "Friends of Syria' meetings where Turkey had a proeminent place that brought absolutely nothing positive to the situation in Syria. Quite the contrary, it escalated the violence and provoked more confrontations and death. The meeting in Iran with 30 participants including Iraq, Afghanistan Pakistan , Algeria and even Jordan will have a better chance to promote dialog. The only reason you can afford to call it 'farcical' is because Tu

stella maris

8/9/2012 2:38:06 PM

@ MKorse (part II) Far from being a fan of Assad I hardly have any whatsoever trust into the rebels. I do not believe that they are the "good ones" in contrast to Assad as the "bad one". There are no such lines in life and history has got its own dynamics which sometimes don't turn out the way people would like them to.

stella maris

8/9/2012 2:34:23 PM

@ Morse (Part I) This is simply NOT true! The rebels never ever were ready to accept any form of negotiations, long before they started to shoot back (with weapons of warmonger Qatar as usual!). They were hoping to get the same help from NATO as Libya got. Turkey also tried, remember! They didn't take into account the completely different and much more complicated political situation and the fact that the Russians did not fall a second time into the same trap! Far from being a fan of Assad

Hakan Salci

8/9/2012 1:37:30 PM

@ Stella; it is not strange at all, it's called hypocrosy and the West are full of it as well as many other things. When it serves their interests like in Saudi Arabia and the UAE then you are best pals, when not, like in Syria and Iran, your an evil undemocratic regime. Everyone can see this but as ever, in the end, only power and military might count. All this rant about being just, democratic, etc. etc. isnothing but a smoke screen.

Morse Fan

8/9/2012 1:26:13 PM

@ stella -- "The West" didn't lose patience with Assad; Syrians lost patience with Assad. Remember, they started marching in the streets and his forces started shooting at them. He could have stopped anytime, but no one could talk him into it. Unsurprisingly, Syrians started shooting back. How long have we all been patient with the Assads and their non-existent reforms? Bashar made all kinds of promises in 2000. So twelve years? Try more like forty years. No one has that much patience.

Morse Fan

8/9/2012 1:19:05 PM

@ ilker avni - That's the best justification yet for patching up with the Israelis! Who would argue with it? There's something in it for everyone. Bravo! Now, someone needs to tell RTE asap. (*chuckles*)

Shah Hamdan

8/9/2012 1:06:45 PM

This war will go for years if not decades like Iraq and Afghanistan. Its not only Syrians who will burn in flames of this war but neighbors and other participants will take equal heat as well. Turkey already started to have its share with active PKK. Every body is playing his game. Time will show where it will end?

stella maris

8/9/2012 11:37:28 AM

I alway find it sort of amusing when everybody in the West is talking about plans for "post-Assad"! Are you really so sure there will be a "post -Assad"? The West ( and Turkey) did it the wrong way. They displace so much "paatience" with nutty Iran getting nukes, but lost temper with Assad instead of giving him the chance of a slow path of changing. Why don't you go to Saudi or UAE and force the dictators out there? I have never heard anyone talk about a "post-Abdullah" plan! Strange, isn't it?

JRC JRC

8/9/2012 9:21:13 AM

Why does everyone think Assad will be defeated. He seems to be hanging on and has far less of a mass opposition to deal with than in Tunisia, Egypt or Libya. With Russia and Iran backing him he has two very powerful friends, Russia with weapons, advice, technology and a vote at the UN, Iran with military personnel (who can doubt there are many more Iranian soldiers then just the 48 captured?) and influence in the region. Don't forget Hezbollah, an experienced and rabid lot. He's not done yet.
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