Bashar al-Assad’s days are numbered: Erdoğan

Bashar al-Assad’s days are numbered: Erdoğan

Bashar al-Assad’s days are numbered: Erdoğan

PM Erdoğan (front L) speaks with Mehmet Görmez, head of Religious Affairs Directorate, after a meeting with African Muslim religious leaders in Istanbul yesterday. AP Photo

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad yesterday that his days as leader were numbered and he could not remain in power indefinitely through military force.

Erdoğan said his one-time ally’s defiant refusal to end a bloody crackdown on protesters had increased the prospects of foreign intervention.

“You can remain in power with tanks and cannons only up to a certain point. The day will come when you’ll also leave,” Erdoğan told a meeting in Istanbul.

“Someone shows up and says, ‘I’ll fight and die.’ Against whom will you fight? Will you fight against your Muslim brothers you rule in your country?” said Erdoğan.

“If you trust yourself, go to the polls and let your people decide. If the polls lead you to power, then you may rule. But otherwise your office is only temporary,” he said.

The prime minister was referring to an interview with Assad published in London’s Sunday Times in which the Syrian leader vowed to fight and die for his position if faced with foreign intervention.

 “Why do you open the way for outside interference?” asked Erdoğan. “Why don’t you handle your own problems within yourself, without opening the way for any outside interference?” Erdoğan also denounced the use of military force “against those in Syria who demand a decent life.”

Turkey has become increasingly vocal in its criticism of Assad’s bloody crackdown on protests against his regime. “The day will come for you to leave. Because those chairs are not permanent, we have mentioned this many times before. But Syrian President Bashar did not understand this,” said Erdoğan. Erdoğan accused Assad of deluding the Muslims in Syria by taking pictures with Muslim clerics. Killing Muslims with tanks and guns does not comply with Islam, said Erdoğan. Erdoğan also accused foreign powers who have financial interests in Libya, saying that Turkey only wants Libya to develop and does not have any other interest.

Turkey’s diplomatic missions came under attack by pro-government demonstrators in several Syrian cities earlier this month after Ankara voiced support for the Arab League’s decisioc to suspend Syria from the group.

After the attacks, Turkey demanded a formal apology from Syria, warning its citizens not to travel there unless absolutely necessary. Turkey last week announced a halt in joint oil exploration and threatened to cut electricity exports.

It also joined the Arab League at a meeting in Morocco in calling on the Assad regime “to stop the bloodshed and to spare Syrian citizens from new acts of violence and killing.”

Compiled from AA and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.