Turkey urges Syria to stop crackdown

Turkey, which sees itself as a model for regional democracy, is urging Syrian President Bashar Assad to meet the demands of pro—reform demonstrators as some European powers threaten sanctions if the bloody crackdown in his country does not ease.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s special envoys were expected to meet Mr. Assad in Syria on Thursday to convey Turkey’s worries as the country’s National Security Council met to hear assessments by Turkey’s ambassador to Damascus. Turkey has close ties with Mr. Assad and is hoping to convince the Syrian leader to show restraint.

The Syrian crisis poses the biggest challenge yet to Turkey’s developing trade and political ties with Damascus as part of Turkey’s policy to seek “zero problems” with neighbours. As a NATO ally, Turkey has cultivated warm relations with countries such as Libya and Syria as part of a regional outreach effort that included nations with a history of enmity with the West.

Now Turkey is scrambling to preserve economic and other links to Mideast nations while urging their autocrats to meet the demands of protesters who want change.

Mr. Erdogan has said Turkey does not want to see an “an authoritarian, totalitarian, imposing structure,” in Syria. And European leaders have demanded that Mr. Assad’s regime stop the violence, though the deeply divided U.N. Security Council failed to agree on a European and U.S.—backed statement on Wednesday condemning the crackdown.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday said his country wouldn’t interfere in the domestic affairs of any other country but that the “same behaviour” and the “same principles” the international community used to protect civilians in violence—racked Libya should be applied in Syria.

The international community, led by France and Britain, agreed quickly to sanctions and then to military intervention in Libya.

Mr. Lieberman said during a visit to Cyprus that the failed bid by the U.N. to condemn Syria was “opposite to this principle,” and British diplomats acknowledged disappointment at the failure.

The Foreign Office said it believed the “complexity of the issue” had stymied their efforts. “This doesn’t mean an end of U.N. concerns on Syria,” a Foreign Office spokeswoman insisted, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with policy.

U.S. Senator John McCain, meanwhile, said that a military intervention in Syria would be risky and might not stop Mr. Assad’s crackdown on opponents.

“I don’t see a way that we could intervene militarily,” Mr. McCain, who vigorously supports international airstrikes targeting Libyan leader’s Muammar Qadhafi’s forces, said in an interview on France—24 television. “I think it would be very risky and I don’t know if we could stop the terrible ... behaviour of (Syrian President) Bashar Assad.”

Mr. McCain, on a visit to Paris this week, urged sanctions and pressure by the U.N. Security Council.

The EU has said its political and security committee was also planning to discuss Syria on Friday in Brussels, adding “all options are on the table.” The German government has said it would strongly support EU sanctions

The Human Rights Council based at the United Nations’ European headquarters in Geneva has agreed to a U.S. request for a special session on Friday on Syria, in a rare focus on the behaviour of one nation.

Syria’s uprising against Mr. Assad’s authoritarian regime started in Daraa, the provincial capital, on March 15. Mr. Assad has tried to crush the revolt - the gravest challenge to his family’s 40—year ruling dynasty. More than 450 people have been killed across Syria in the crackdown, with 120 dead over the weekend.

Britain announced on Thursday it had revoked an invitation to the Syrian ambassador to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton because of the attacks on protesters.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2020 11:08:52 AM |

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