Avoid Gadhafi’s fate, Erdoğan tells Assad

Avoid Gadhafi’s fate, Erdoğan tells Assad

Avoid Gadhafi’s fate, Erdoğan tells Assad

'Cowardly’ Assad must step down, Erdoğan says, addressing Parliament. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must resign, Turkey’s prime minister said yesterday, calling the leader’s war on his own people “cowardice.”

“Quit power before more blood is shed ... for the peace of your people, your region and your country,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in Parliament.

“Bashar al-Assad is saying he will fight to the death. Fighting your own people ... is not heroism but cowardice,” Erdogan said, referring to Assad’s recent interview with the Sunday Times in London in which he vowed to fight on until the end.

Erdoğan’s criticism of the Syrian leader has been mounting for weeks, but yesterday was the first time the prime minister directly called for Assad to abandon power.

He reminded Assad of the bloody end of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and those of past dictators, including Adolf Hitler.

“If you want to see someone who has fought until death against his own people, just look at Nazi Germany, just look at Hitler, at [Benito] Mussolini, at Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania,” he said. “If you cannot draw any lessons from these [leaders], then look at the Libyan leader, who was killed just 32 days ago.”

Erdoğan also asked Assad why he failed to display the same fighting spirit to win back the Golan Heights, a rocky plateau which Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 war and unilaterally annexed in 1981.

“You are talking about fighting to the death. Why didn’t you fight to the death for the Golan Heights occupied by Israel?” Erdoğan asked.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told the Financial Times yesterday that Turkey was looking to be more proactive in the region.

If the Arab Spring had occurred 20 years ago, Davutoğlu said, “I am sure we would be saying we don’t intervene in domestic affairs.”

However, things are very different now, he said. If the suggestion is that “we will be affected in the next stage, we will lead the process today,” he added.

Compiled from AP and AFP stories by the Daily News staff