Syria calls on PM Erdoğan to halt the violent repression of peaceful protests or resign
BEIRUT - Reuters
Syrian Information Minister Omran Zoabi speaks during a news conference in Damascus May 5. REUTERS photo
Syria gleefully turned the tables on Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan on June 1 over his response to Taksim Gezi Park demonstrations, calling on him to halt the violent repression of peaceful protests or resign.
Erdoğan, a former ally of Bashar al-Assad, turned against him after the Syrian president sought to crush largely peaceful protests which broke out in March 2011 and have since descended into a brutal civil war that has left at least 80,000 dead.
Syrian state television broadcast hours of live footage from Istanbul, where thousands of protesters clashed for a second day with riot police who fired teargas and water cannons.
The unrest was triggered by government plans for a building a shopping center complex in Istanbul's Taksim Square replacing the Gezi Park, a little patch of oasis in the heart of the city's entertainment area, long a venue for political protest, but widened into a show of defiance against Erdoğan and his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).
"The demands of the Turkish people don't deserve all this violence," Syrian television quoted Information Minister Omran Zoabi as saying. "If Erdogan is unable to pursue non-violent means, he should resign."
"Erdoğan's repression of peaceful protest ... shows how detached he is from reality."