Turkey pressures Syria
Turkish PM Recep Erdogan warns that his country will not be bystanders to violence and urges President Assad to stop the military assault on protesters
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has issued the strongest warning yet to Syria to end the bloody crackdown on protesters as he stated that his country's patience was running thin and that Turkey could not remain a bystander to the violence.
Turkey, which borders Syria and until recently was a close ally and major trade partner, said it is sending its foreign minister to Damascus on Tuesday to deliver a strong message against the violence.
After months of diplomatic inaction, Syria's ongoing military assault, using tanks and artillery, spurred condemnation in the past week from the UN Security Council and the Arab world.
The Arab League, which had been silent since the uprising began, on Sunday called for the immediate halt of all violence, and Saudi Arabia — which sent troops to repress anti-government protests in neighboring Bahrain — harshly criticized the Syrian government, recalling its ambassador in Damascus for consultations.
Last Wednesday, the Security Council issued a presidential statement, its first response to the crackdown, condemning "the widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities."
The UN's most powerful body was unable to take any action for months because Russia and China threatened to veto a European-initiated resolution condemning the violence, which was backed by the US.
India, Brazil and South Africa had also refused to support the resolution.
However, in light of recent events in Hama and Deir Al Zor, envoys from India, Brazil and South Africa are heading to Syria to appeal for an end to the violent crackdown against civilians and to promote democratic reforms.
India's UN Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri said his country's representative is scheduled to arrive in Damascus on Tuesday and will join representatives from Brazil and South Africa for a meeting with Syria's foreign minister to deliver the appeal.
Puri told reporters Monday the three countries will be "calling for restraint, abjuring violence and promoting reform, taking into account the democratic aspirations of the people."
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said on Monday that talking with Syria's leaders was the best solution to ending the bloodshed, saying Brazil is a nation that "believes in the value of dialogue" and that military action "should always be a last resort."