Turkish PM and Syrian president engage in war of words

Turkish PM and Syrian president engage in war of words

ANKARA / DAMASCUS - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish PM and Syrian president engage in war of words

Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad look at a map at Suleiman al-Halabi neighbourhood in Aleppo. Al-Assad forces and rebels are landlocked in a brutal war. REUTERS photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have engaged in a war of words over the 18-month long crisis in Syria, with both sides accusing each other in separate interviews.

“Bashar is politically dead. Of course, it is difficult to tell whether this [his departure] will take place in a week, a month or when. This also has to do with how Russia and China approach the situation,”
Erdoğan told the Washington Post in an interview, when asked about the fate of the embattled leader. “We see that they [Russia and China] also believe that al-Assad will go. The question they ask is what happens after al-Assad? My answer to them is that if we believe in a democratic parliamentary system, then the will of the people will be what will come to pass.”

In Damascus, the Syrian president put the blame on Ankara, saying the Turkish government was unconcerned “about the interests of its people, focusing solely on its ambitions, including a new Ottoman empire,” in an interview with the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram al-Arabi. He also hit out at Saudi Arabia and Qatar, accusing them of arming Syrian rebels but insisting that they will not win.

“They suddenly saw money in their hands after a long period of poverty and think they can buy history and play a regional role,” al-Assad said. “The widespread idea that Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt are the cornerstone of stability in the region is false. It has always been, and will remain, Syria, Iraq and Egypt.”

Erdoğan also touched on the post-al-Assad period in Syria, saying: “This is not a problem. In Egypt, the Mubarak family was in power for more than 30 years, and he is gone. And the people elected someone [as president] whose name was not known. The Syrian people will bring in a strong leader through their own will. If we believe in democracy, this is what we should trust in.” On the issue of the establishment of a buffer zone in Syria, Erdoğan reiterated the need for U.N. backing. “We would not accept being part of what would be a trap, doing something without the U.N.,” he said.

Downed jet compensation

Meanwhile, Turkish authorities are working to finalize a detailed report regarding the Turkish jet downed on June to demand compensation from Syria, daily Hürriyet has reported. The report will outline Syria’s responsibility in the downing of the Turkish RF 4E jet in international airspace and demand Syrian authorities compensate Turkey for the jet, as well as the two pilots that were killed in the crash. the Turkish Chief of General Staff Military Prosecutor’s Office said yesterday.

The report will be sent to various international law foundations and to the U.N. Security Council with proper applications. The Turkish Chief of General Staff Military Prosecutor’s Office said the warplane was shot down by a Syrian air defense missile that did not directly hit the plane.