Syria fears repeat of Tahrir protests wave
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Thousands of Islamists pack Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square to pressure the country’s ruling generals to bar Hosni Mubarak-era officials, including his former spy chief, from running in the upcoming presidential elections. REUTERS photoThe Syrian government has stopped the use of heavy weapons against its own people since the truce on Thursday but the violence and killings have not come to an end, said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in an Istanbul press conference on April 13.
“We have sufficient intelligence,” Davutoğlu underlined. “There is a decrease in the trend of violence, but that doesn’t mean that the Syrian regime is fully implementing the Annan plan. Tanks and other heavy weapons are still based around the towns posing a threat to civilians.”
Declining to give any ‘unconfirmed’ figures, Davutoğlu said there were reports of more killings, especially in peaceful demonstrations following Friday prayer in more than 30 towns. But according to one ranking diplomatic source, despite the fact that Syrian security forces open fire into the air, not targeting people, at least six people died in the Friday demonstrations, on top of some 40 from both sides and civilians in incidents before the morning of Friday, April 13.
Turkey’s demands regarding Syria could be summed up as three points:
-Withdrawal of all heavy weapons to their barracks; not to be sent to smaller towns or rural areas where people seek refuge. (According to Turkish estimates two-thirds of Homs, a town of more than 750,000, have fled.)
-In order for the truce to be a lasting one the United Nations Observation Force should be allowed in Syria with the necessary authority to understand whether the Annan plan is being implemented. So Turkey supports the U.N. Security Council attempt for observers.
-People should be allowed to demonstrate and express themselves peacefully.
When asked if “the Syrian regime is afraid of their own Tahrir,” Davutoğlu said, “That is what we have believed from day one.”
Davutoğlu underlined a few times during the press gathering that while Turkey was for the success of Kofi Annan’s plan, it doesn’t see it as an end game, but a basis for a future solution.
“I shared all our intelligence and figures about what is happening on the other side of the border with G-8 colleagues in the video conference Thursday [April 12] night” he said. “I told them that if the recent developments on our border with Syria go beyond the humanitarian border, like a massive flood of refugees, or pose security risks for us, Turkey reserves the right to take its own precautions if the international community fails to support Turkey.”
“Does that include military options?” one journalist asked.
“If Turkey’s security is of concern,” Davutoğlu said. “Every option is on the table.” Turkish security is watching the moves of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Syria very closely as well and will not hesitate to hit them, like they do in Iraq, according to one government source, but Davutoğlu declined to get into those details.