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Turkey doesn't rule out intervention in Syria

HDN | 8/12/2011 12:00:00 AM |

Turkey isn’t ruling out international intervention in Syria if the Bashar al-Assad regime doesn’t stop using violence against its own people.

Turkey isn’t ruling out international intervention in Syria if the Bashar al-Assad regime doesn’t stop using violence against its own people, a Turkish official speaking on condition of anonymity told the Hürriyet Daily News on Friday.

The source also said that a letter from Turkish President Abdullah Gül to Assad delivered by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Tuesday was considered by Ankara as an “ultimatum” to Damascus that, if violence by Syrian troops continued, Assad would no longer be able to rely on Turkey’s friendship.

“Up until eight months ago, we were trying to convince our Western allies to give some more time for Assad to implement reforms. We were as friendly as to convene joint Cabinet meetings and lift visas,” the source told the Daily News. “But if a regime is not listening to the advice of its friend and neighbor and continues opening fire on its own people, that regime can no longer be Turkey’s friend.”

Another factor why Turkey’s patience is “being exhausted,” as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says, is the open support that the Iranian government has declared for the Syrian government.

“Syria is already ruled by a religious minority that is close to the Shiite majority in Iran,” the source said. “A further escalation of tension might lead to sectarian fights not only in Syria but also in Iraq, and Turkey is naturally uncomfortable, having relatives from all Islamic sects in the region on both sides of the border.”

Turkish presidential sources has leaked parts of the letter from Gül to Assad on Friday to the semi-official Anatolia News Agency on Friday, which said that time was running out for Assad to show his leadership courage for his people.

According to information the Daily News has gathered from official sources, Turkey doesn’t mean “military” intervention by the term “international intervention” – at least not now. But with the condition of a United Nations resolution, Ankara doesn’t rule out being a part of an international military effort as a last option.

The Daily News’ source explained that the first steps to joining the international intervention against Syria might be recalling the Turkish ambassador to Damascus, starting to implement sanctions, helping the Syrian opposition, as well as other methods of increasing pressure on the Assad regime.

Turkey, however, has been stepping up military controls for the last few months along its 910-kilometer-long land border with Syria and currently hosts thousands of refugees from the country.

The issue of the possibility of an international intervention was discussed during Erdoğan’s telephone talk with U.S. President Barack Obama late Thursday. According to diplomatic sources, the planned call of the U.S. for Assad to step down was put on hold for now until Ankara decides to change its stance depending on the results of Gül’s letter.

Ankara believes that the U.N. concept of “humanitarian intervention” is legitimate when a regime’s actions against its own people exceed the limits of internal affairs, becoming a systematic violation of human rights.

Turkish opposition parties, on the other hand, strongly warned the government Friday not to be a part of the Western “conspiracy” and to stay away from a military “adventure” in Syria.

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