Gül: We lost all trust in the Syrian regime
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News | 8/28/2011 12:00:00 AM |
There is no place for authoritarian regimes in today’s world, Turkey’s president and prime minister say, urging the Syrian regime to end operations against its people if it does not want to follow in the footsteps of Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. ‘We have lost confidence [in Syria],’ Gül says
Turkey warned the Syrian regime Sunday that its fate will be no different from those of the former Egyptian and Libyan leaders unless it ends military operations against its people and starts a meaningful reform process.
“In today’s world, there is no place for single-party governments, [for] authoritarian administrations. The leaders of these countries will take the initiative or they will be changed by force,” President Abdullah Gül told the Anatolia news agency in a comprehensive interview Sunday.
“Clearly we have reached a point [in Syria] where anything would be too little, too late. We have lost our confidence,” Gül said while describing the current state of affairs in the neighboring country.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan delivered a similar message to Syria in his monthly address to the Turkish nation late Sunday.
“No regime that uses heavy weapons and brutal force to kill unarmed people who take to the streets can stand. The only way is to end military operations and heed people’s demands. We are sadly observing the fates of those who have not chosen this way in the last few months in Tunisia, Egypt and currently in Libya,” the prime minister said.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been engaged since mid-April in a brutal crackdown on protesters who demand more rights and freedoms. The ongoing unrest is the latest in a chain of Arab revolts that have already overthrown long-standing regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and, through force, in Libya. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu held a six-hour meeting with al-Assad in April, but his efforts fell short as Damascus continued its violent suppression. Activists claim more than 2,000 people have been killed by security forces since the uprising began in the spring.
Despite Gül’s and Erdoğan’s strong statements against the Syrian leadership, Turkey is still reluctant to join the U.S.-led chorus calling on al-Assad to step down as there is no obvious potential candidate to fill the power vacuum that would be left behind.
“We made a huge political investment in Syria, this is clear. [Seeing whether we] could possibly help contribute to the transition of Syria was our sincere intention,” Gül said. “Everyone must know that for us the most important thing is the well-being of the Syrian people.”
The president said he was receiving daily intelligence reports from Syria that contained detailed information about the latest violent incidents. “Last Thursday, 17 people were killed. We felt really sad. The incidents are said to be ‘finished’ and then another 17 people are dead. How many will it be today?” Gül said.
[HH] Al-Assad going the way of Gadhafi?
Reflecting the same approach to Syria, in even stronger language, Erdoğan in his speech Sunday night compared al-Assad’s fate to that of Gadhafi and Mubarak, who were both forced to give up their decades-old authoritarian reigns.
Humanity’s conscience cannot tolerate what is going on in Syria, Erdoğan said, urging al-Assad to take lessons from the developments in other countries in the region.
“There is no place for single-man governments, dictatorships and closed societies. As we have reminded the leaders of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya of this fact in the past, we are doing the same today to the administrations in Syria and Yemen,” Erdoğan said. “They must learn the lesson and end this cruel violence imposed on civilians whose only wish is to voice their demands.”
[HH] Praise for Libyan opposition
Both Gül and Erdoğan meanwhile applauded the success of Libya’s National Transitional Council in defeating Gadhafi’s forces in Tripoli, ending his nearly four-decades-old autocratic reign in the oil-rich North African country.
“The regime in Libya was no longer able to endure. A country owning the world’s richest oil reserves and having a 2,000-kilometer-long coastline on the Mediterranean with a small population could be the world’s most prosperous country. It was unbelievable the continuation of this regime under one-man reign for so many years,” Gül said.
Expressing his wish for a good future for Libya free domestic strife, the president said Turkey was sincerely hoping to establish very good relations with the new Libya.
For his part, Erdoğan said the defeat of the Gadhafi regime had opened a new page in Libya’s history and promised Turkey would continue to side with the Libyan people.