Bashar is a ‘villain’ like his father, says Demirel

Bashar is a ‘villain’ like his father, says Demirel

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Bashar is a ‘villain’ like his father, says Demirel

In today’s world, no leader can stand in front of such a wave. It’s impossible for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stay in power, former Turkish President Demirel says. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is as brutal as his father, Hafez al-Assad, the late leader of Syria, but he cannot stop the uprising sweeping his country, according to former Turkish President Süleyman Demirel.

“Both Bashar and Hafez are villains,” Demirel told the Hürriyet Daily News on April 9. “[But] in today’s world, no leader can stand in front of such a wave. It’s impossible for them to stay,” Demirel said.
As one of Turkey’s most experienced politicians, having served as both prime minister and president, Demirel forced the elder al-Assad to expel Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), from his long-time safe haven in Damascus following a severe bilateral crisis in 1998.

Demirel said Syria was a very complicated country with a multi-ethnic and multi-religious structure.
“Those who cannot ride a horse will surely lose their horse. They [the al-Assad family] thought they had arranged everything properly with the dynasty they have built.”

Though rocked by the wave of the Arab Spring, Syria’s leadership has so far managed to evade growing international pressure thanks to vetoes from Russia and China at the U.N. Security Council that have blocked resolutions against the Syrian president. Bashar al-Assad is using every tool he possesses to protect his reign, Demirel said while denouncing the Syrian leader for using disproportionate force to suppress his opponents.

War is not an option for Turkey

On Turkey’s policy vis-à-vis Syria, the seasoned politician was critical. “Where do we stand in this? It’s not a secret that we are following a different orbit in Syria,” he said.

Demirel criticized the Turkish government for not properly taking advantage of its positive relationship with Syria at the beginning of the crisis. “Now there is a war, there is bloodshed. Our sincere wish is for an immediate end of all this,” he said.

“At the beginning, the entire world appreciated our efforts in Syria,” he said, adding that the efforts had since proved futile. “Foreign policy does not afford offense. You cooperate with countries if it serves your interest,” Demirel said, in reference to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s foreign policy rhetoric based on personal feelings. “In today’s world, Turkey cannot expect [to gain] anything for itself out of a war. I hope the Syrian case will be ended in the best possible way,” he said.