Beirut/London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Senior Turkish presidential adviser, Arshet Hormozlo, has revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have “lost all hope in the Syrian regime and its ability to carry out the needed reform.” However he refused to speculate on Ankara’s next step in this context, instead saying that the “Syrian popular force” i.e. the Syrian opposition, must resolve the situation. Hormozlo also stressed that “genuine unity between the parties of the [Syrian] opposition is a necessity, not just for neighboring countries and the international community, but also for the people of Syria at home who must feel that someone is representing their demands.”
The Turkish presidential adviser said that Turkey is “extremely concerned by the military operation being carried out by the Syrian forces in the province of Idlib” adding that “the atrocities being carried out by the Syrian army concerns us regarding the fate of innocent [Syrian] civilians.”
Hormozlo also told Asharq Al-Awsat that Turkey believes that the situation in Syria is moving “in a frightening direction”, adding that “what is happening in Idlib shows that the Syrian authorities have taken their final decision by resorting to violence and avoiding listening to the voice of reason, and the voices of the people who are demanding legitimate and just rights, and who deserve to be listened to with all attention.”
Speaking in Cairo yesterday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that “as civilian deaths increase in Syria we see that reforms have not materialized and that they [they Syrian regime] did not speak honestly. This is unbelievable… [and now] the Syrian people do not believe in al-Assad, nor do I. We no longer believe in him.” He added “nobody can be friend with or trust an administration that fires bullets at its own people and attacks its cities with tanks…a leader who kills his own people has lost his legitimacy.”
Oytun Orhan, an analyst at the Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies in Ankara, told Agence France-Presse [AFP] that relations between Ankara and Damascus today has reached the point today where we can talk about “bilateral relations being cut.” He said that this option was placed on the table following Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s visit to Damascus last August, with the Syrian regime ignoring Ankara’s advice to implement an immediate end to the policy of violence and suppression being carried out against the unarmed Syrian protesters. This is something that has, according to the UN, led to the killing of more than 2,600 people since March.
Throughout this time, Ankara has continued to criticize Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – who was one of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s closest allies in recent years – without explicitly demanding his departure, although both the US and the EU have done so. Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies analyst Oytun Orhan stressed that “the authoritarian Syrian regime is simply incapable of making the democratic changes demanded by the international community…it’s simply impossible.”
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, who has recently visited Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, also warned of a civil war breaking out in Syria.
Whilst a senior Turkish official stressed that a civil war breaking out in Syria would be a “disaster” for Turkey. The official, speaking to AFP on the condition of anonymity, said that “the consequences [of a Syrian civil war] will be huge for Turkey, both at a security and an economic level.”