Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of creating a “terrorist state” because of the 18-month long civil war there. He also accused the global community of indifference, in his strongest statement on the war thus far.
He said, “The massacres in Syria that gain strength from the international community’s indifference are continuing to increase. The regime in Syria has now become a terrorist state.”
For more on Turkey and Syria, see:
- Turkey Crosses Syria Border Giving Aid
- Syria Refugees Burden Jordan, Turkey
- Turkey Troops Amass on Syria Border
While Erdogan historically had a strong relationship with Assad, the uprising and Assad’s response to the rebels ruined their rapport. Erdogan has been one of Assad’s most vocal critics and repeatedly called for his resignation.
One of Turkey’s primary frustrations has been with the 80,000 Syrian refugees that flooded the country. Militarily, it has refused to take action without global support.
However, Erdogan emphasized the relations between the two nations. He said, “For the Syrian people, Turkey is not an ordinary country. We are a country with a 910 kilometer border and tied by relatives.”
He continued, “For Syria, we are not the USA, nor are we England, nor Iran, nor Russia. A country in Asia can remain indifferent over Syria, but Turkey does not have that luxury.”
Regardless of his claims that no military action would be taken, Turkish troops have become increasingly active along the border throughout the summer. Yesterday (Wednesday) tanks held exercises at the border, warning Damascus by engaging in military drills that could be seen from inside Syria.
Despite what Erdogan says about Assad, one of Turkey’s biggest worries pertains to the Kurdish community. The Turkish government considers the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) to be a terrorist organization, and fears that one of the outcomes of Syria’s collapse would be an independent Kurdish state for Syria’s Kurdish population. This, in turn, would rile up Turkey’s Kurdish population, giving it a close base from which to launch attacks.