Turkey-Syrian relations hit bottom after
By Alakbar Raufoglu for SES Türkiye
Condemning the May 25th Houla
massacre, Turkey has expelled Syrian diplomats from
its borders, increasing pressure on Syrian President
Bashar al-Assad to leave power.
Syrian refugees protest against Syria's President
Bashar al-Assad at Yayladagi refugee camp in Hatay
province near the Turkish-Syrian border on April
20th, 2012. Photo: Reuters
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June 1, 2012
ANKARA, — Pressure on the regime of
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad mounted in Ankara
early this week, after the UN Security Council
condemned the massacre of at least 108 Syrians,
including 49 children and 34 women in Houla, on May
"It would be cruel to remain silent against cruelty
happening in Syria," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan said in his reaction statement.
Turkey is among 13 countries that have expelled top
Syrian diplomats, and reduced the number of its
personnel in the consulate in Aleppo, to protest the
All Syrian diplomats have been given 72 hours to
leave Turkey. In Istanbul, the Syrian consulate will
remain open for consular duties only.
Yahya Akman, a deputy of the ruling Justice and
Development Party (AKP) from Sanliurfa, near Syria,
says the expulsion decision "wasn't easy" for
policymakers in Ankara.
"Our situation is different than the Europian
countries'. We're a bordering neighbour to Syria and
are carrying thousands of [Syrian] refugees.
Hundreds of our citizens still remain there," he
told SES Türkiye, adding that Turkey will continue
pressuring the Assad regime to leave power
Khaled Khoja, Syrian National Council spokesman,
believes that Ankara's latest step is a clear
message to Assad "to think deeply how he lost a
"By losing a strong neighbour like Turkey, Assad
will feel more isolated and weakened," he told SES
Türkiye. As a strong supporter of the Syrian people,www.ekurd.net
Turkey "is working on preserving the mutual gain of
the exceptional relationship between two countries,"
In the meantime, Khoja said, the Syrian people want
"concrete support in order to defend themselves.
Turkey seeks for a strong coalition in order to stop
the bloodshed in Syria. We are now more close to
Akman said that the Turkish governent is hoping to
persuade Moscow to cut with Damascus as the violence
in Syria continues.
Russia criticised the diplomatic expulsions, calling
The UN Human Rights Council has scheduled a special
session on Friday (June 1st), to discuss the latest
situation in Syria; hours after former
Secretary-General Kofi Annan met with Bashar al-Assad
and expressed "grave concern" about the escalating
The request for the council's fourth special session
was submitted in a letter Wednesday by the
ambassadors of Turkey, Qatar, Denmark and other
Back in Ankara, the government's Syrian policy will
likely "get more support from the opposition, even
by the left nationalists, after the Houla massacre,"
Veysel Ayhan, a Syria analyst at the Ankara-based
Centre for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies, said.
"Those who were criticising the AKP with playing
[into] the Western countries' hands, are now
themselves very furious against the al-Assad regime
and are calling on the Syrian dictator to step
aside," he told SES Türkiye adding, however "it's
still unclear whether the opposition's support will
continue to AKP, in case of a military intervention
Michael Weiss, communications director of the
London-based think tank Henry Jackson Society, who
recently returned from Syrian camps in Turkey's
southeastern Hatay province, said that he believed
that Ankara "would be willing to intervene
militarily in Syria if the Western powers agreed to
offer their support, particularly air cover."
The expulsion of the Syrian diplomats is more
significant for Turkey, he added, "as it signals
that it definitively judges the Assad regime as
illegitimate and beyond reconciling with."
"It could also be read as a prelude to a more
aggressive strategy for dislodging the regime
through direct intervention, although I think that's
premature at this time," Weiss told SES Türkiye.
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