Thursday, September 8, 2011

Report: Turkey's Anti-Israel Pose Tied to Ankara's Syria Policy

Syria is quickly losing friends even among those thought to be its staunchest allies.
By David Lev
First Publish: 9/8/2011, 4:16 PM
Down With Assad Sign
Down With Assad Sign
Israel news photo: Wikimedia Commons
After months of violent – and so far unsuccessful – attempts to put down a revolution, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad finds himself increasingly isolated, even from those who just a short time ago had been his allies. Reports Thursday said that Turkey was planning to break off relations with Syria, and that the Arab League was considering freezing Syria's membership in the group.  And even Iran is having second thoughts about its relationship with Syria.

The report on Turkey, interestingly, attributed at least part of Turkey's increased pronouncements against Israel in recent weeks to Ankara's policy on Syria. A report in the Kuwaiti a-Siasa newspaper Thursday quoted NATO diplomats as telling the paper's reporter in Brussels that Ankara was preparing the foundation for a full breaking off of relations with Damascus. The diplomats said that at least part of the reason for recent Turkish hostility to Israel was based on these preparations; Turkey wants to make sure that Syria and other Arab countries do not blame its breaking off relations with Damascus on pressure from Israel, so Ankara is seeking to distance itself further from Israel.

Another report in the London-based Arabic al-Sharq al-Awsat daily Thursday said that Arab League diplomats were considering freezing Syria's membership in the League. Senior Arab diplomats discussed the matter Tuesday, and decided that if Syria continues to ignore the League's plan for negotiations and continues it violence against Syrian citizens, Syria's membership in the League will be frozen, the report said.

And now, even Assad's most staunch defender, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, seems to be turning his back on Assad. In an interview on Portuguese TV earlier this week, Ahmadinejad said that Assad had no choice at this point but to open discussions with the opposition. “The military solution will not resolve anything, and in any event is the wrong solution. We believe that freedom, justice, and mutual respect is the solution for all nations. The only way to resolve this is with mutual dialogue.”

With that, Ahmadinejad said he was opposed to foreign intervention in Syria especially by the U.S. - in order to protect Syrian citizens. “The President of the United States has been threatening Syria. It's clear that the reason for this unwarranted intercession in Syria's internal affairs has nothing to do with the welfare of the Syrian people, but to save the 'Zionist entity.'”

Meanwhile, another 23 people were killed in Syria Wednesday, human rights activists said, 21 of them in the city of Homs. The BBC quoted members of the opposition Local Coordination Committees (LCC),as saying that security forces "opened fire and sound bombs to terrorize the population near the police headquarters around the castle in Homs. The United Nations says more than 2,200 people have been killed in Syria since protests erupted against the ruling regime there in mid-March."