‘This fire will spread,’ Assad warns
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is under increasing pressure. AFP photo
Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad criticized the Turkish government over its policy on Syria and warned that the “fire” in his country would eventually spread to Turkey. Al-Assad was quoted by Mustafa Kamalak, leader of the Felicity Party, who met with the Syrian leader over the weekend in Damascus.
“If there is a fire in one room of the house, it will spread to the other rooms. To stop the fire from spreading to the other rooms and harming our brothers and sisters, we must work together to put it out,” said al-Assad at a meeting in Syria with the Turkish Felicity Party on Jan. 7.
Turkey’s attitude toward Syria during this period was “disappointing,” he added. “I have a hard time understanding Turkey. We expected Turkey to help us. But I am hopeful. We will go out of this crisis.”
Turkey long tried to push al-Assad to initiate political reforms in the country and provided some technical assistance in this end. As al-Assad did not show willingness to reform his country and continued to oppress dissidents, Turkey said it lost its confidence in al-Assad and opened its territories for the Syrian oppositional groups.
Al-Assad, in the meeting with Kamalak, tried to give warmer messages, recalling his brotherly relationship with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “We have changed the history in the last 10 years. We should not return to that point [of 10 years ago],” he said. Turkey and Syria came to the brink of war 1998 due to Damascus’ support to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“People think that the ties between us strengthened in 2004, when in reality, the relationship between Turkey and Syria started in 2000 when [then President] Ahmet Necdet Sezer visited our country,” pointed out al-Assad.
“Everyone expects this period to end quickly, but it takes a while to move from one house to another. While preparing the constitution we have also made some significant reforms, and we will continue to do so. While changing our laws on political parties and local authorities, we drew from Turkey’s laws,” al-Assad said.