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Turkey`s Davutoglu: Al-Asad No Longer Rules; Regime Days Numbered
Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online
Thursday, December 13, 2012

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, right, arrives with other members of the Turkish delegation at a meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People in Marrakech, Morocco, Wednesday Dec. 12, 2012. The Syrian opposition called for "real support" and not just recognition on Wednesday, hours after the U.S. declared its new coalition was the "legitimate representative" of its country`s people. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)

Interview with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu by Tha`ir Abbas, in Ankara; date not given: “Davutoglu: Al-Asad No Longer Rules; Barely Strives To Survive by Force And Terror; In Interview With Al-Sharq al-Awsat. He Warn That International Community`s Inaction Encourages Despots in Damascus”

Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu called on the international community to make good on its promises and offer more support to the Syrian National Coalition and the Syrian people, now that the opposition has closed its ranks. He voiced his hope that the meeting of the Friends of Syria in Morocco tomorrow “will provide a good opportunity to coordinate our efforts under the new circumstances.” In an interview with Al-Sharq al-Awsat in Ankara, the Turkish foreign minister warned that the international community`s inaction will only serve the Syrian regime`s interest. He added: “inaction will only encourage the despotic regime in Damascus to continue with its savage war against civilians.”

The Turkish foreign minister said that the Syrian regime “lost its legitimacy long ago.” He added: “Al-Asad no longer rules, but barely strives to survive by force and terror. Despite the regime`s military superiority, the regime is gradually losing its control throughout the country.” He said: “There is no doubt that the Syrian regime`s days are numbered.” He cautioned that prolongation of the conflict poses many dangers, adding:” The Syrian crisis has human consequences, notably escalation of the ethnic and religious divisions, let alone the indirect effects of the crisis on neighboring countries.” He emphasized what seemed to be “a framework for a solution,” which must begin first “by abandonment of power by Al-Asad and his clan to pave the way for a political solution.” He stressed that “Al-Asad can no longer participate in any political process after the opposition unequivocally declared that it would not negotiate with the regime.”

Referring to “the side effects” of the Syrian crisis on Turkey`s domestic situation, Davutoglu noted the dangers of the deployment of PKK elements -- an organization regarded as terrorist by Turkey, the United State, and the EU -- in certain Syrian areas, which are predominantly inhabited by Kurds, in collaboration with the Kurdistan Democratic Union party. He warned that Turkey “cannot tolerate the steps that the PKK has taken,” noting that “the latest clashes between the Syrian opposition forces, on the one hand, and the elements of the PKK and the Kurdistan Democratic Union party, on the other, near our border, are a source of deep concern for Turkey.”

Davutoglu said that his visit along with his Arab counterparts to the Gaza Strip was necessary to tell the whole world that “the people of Gaza are not forgotten, and that we will stand by them under all circumstances.” He said that “to start a meaningful peace process, Israel should end all its settlement construction activities once and for all. Israel must also seriously comply with valid laws, particularly compliance with the 1967 border as contained in the Arab peace plan, which we strongly support.” He said he believes in the need for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel living in peace and security.

The text of the interview follows:

(Abbas) How do you view developments in the situation in Syria following the unification of the Syrian opposition groups?

(Davutoglu) The Doha meetings led to a more credible united structure of the Syrian opposition. The various leaders of the Syrian opposition closed their ranks and articulated a common vision, cementing a firm relationship between the opposition groups in Syria and abroad. This opposition deserves our appreciation because it agreed to shoulder responsibility toward the Syrian people and responded positively to the international community`s calls to unite and coordinate their activities. Still, this is just the beginning, as the opposition has a hard mission to accomplish. The new Syrian National Coalition of the Opposition and Revolution forces needs to move forward in keeping with the common understanding reached in Doha and implement the resolutions reached without delay. The establishment of this coalition has indeed increased hope among the Syrian people and encouraged the international community to expedite devising a particular concept about the transitional period in Syria.

The international community is now expected to make good on its promises and offer more support and assistance to the Syrian National Coalition and people. Turkey took the initiative and recognized the new National Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. I think that the meeting of the Friends Syria in Morocco tomorrow will provide a good opportunity for the conferees to coordinate their efforts under the new circumstances.

(Abbas) What after Turkey`s recognition of the new Syrian National Coalition?

(Davutoglu) Turkey has recognized the new coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. I confirmed this recognition on 15 November at the Islamic Cooperation Organization`s 19th session in Djibouti. I also called on the international community to follow suit and contribute to the struggle of the Syrian people who seek freedom and dignity. In this respect, we welcome the resolutions of the Arab League, the GCC, and other governments that recognized the new Syrian National Coalition.

(Abbas) How do you handle the issue of the Syrian refugees? How accurate is the information that thousands of Syrian refugees are behind the border fence because they have been banned entry into Turkey? What is the outcome of the visit (to Ankara) of the UN secretary general?

(Davutoglu) From the beginning, Turkey said it would not hesitate to offer help to our Syrian brothers, who are in dire need for help. In keeping with international law, Turkey provides temporary protection for Syrian refugees without segregation. Turkey will continue to pursue the policy of open border for the Syrian citizens fleeing the excessive violence in their country. More than 137,000 Syrian guests currently reside in 13 camps in Turkish territories. Our efforts to meet the humanitarian needs of our Syrian brothers prove the utmost importance we attach to the safety and well-being of the refugees seeking our help.

The magnitude of the tragedy in Syria is worsening, so much so that it has become difficult for neighboring countries to cope on their own with the challenges arising form this tragedy. There is a need for the international community, along with the competent parties, to confront this crisis with urgent, firm measures. What we expect from our partners is significant and serious participation in the efforts to address this human tragedy.

(Abbas) What of the Syrian refugees behind the Turkish border?

(Davutoglu) There is no shift in our policy; the border is open and no Syrian or foreign national is refused entry at the Turkish border. We firmly comply with the principle of refraining from forcing a return of individuals at the border. In fact, Turkey`s relief efforts have reached beyond our border. We offer humanitarian aid at the Al-Sifr crossing on the Turkish--Syrian border to those who stayed in the Syrian territories. Relief aid is given at the Syrian reception centers on the border by the Turkish Red Crescent. I would like to reemphasize that we are determined to continue to provide protection and help to our Syrian brothers who flee the brutish attack and violence in their country.

(Abbas) The Syrian refugees in Turkey now number more than 100,000. You earlier said that that 100,000 figure would be the maximum that Turkey could handle; Is Turkey considering setting up camps for refugees inside the Syrian territories?

(Davutoglu) Beside the more than 130,000 Syrian refugees in the camps, there are tens of thousands of Syrians beyond our reach. There are approximately 2.5 million Syrians displaced in the Syrian territories. This situation requires the United Nations to intensify its efforts to reach solutions providing protection as well as relief aid to displaced refugees in Syria.

(Abbas) Are Turkey`s efforts to deploy Patriot missiles linked to expected dramatic developments in the Syrian crisis?

(Davutoglu) The crisis in Sy ria is quickly headed to major escalation. Al-Asad`s warplanes carry out air raids and his artillery continue to pound the Syrian towns adjacent to our common border. The collateral damage of the combat in Syria has already caused losses in life and casualties among civilians in Turkey. While Al-Asad forces gradually lose ground, the situation is getting more and more unstable. We requested NATO to deploy Patriot missile batteries in Turkey to reinforce our defense capabilities and defend our people and territories. The Patriot missiles will be deployed only for defense purposes.

(Abbas) How long will the bloodshed in Syria continue before the international community intervenes?

(Davutoglu) Al-Asad`s regime has lost its legitimacy a long time ago. This regime has turned into a militia that uses every means against its people to stay in power. Al-Asad no longer rules; he barely strives to survive by force and terror. But despite its military superiority, the regime is gradually losing control throughout the country. No regime can overcome its people`s will, and there is no doubt that the regime`s days are numbered. Prolonging the conflict poses dangers. The humanitarian consequences of the crisis do not need further description: More than 40,000 civilians have been killed and approximately 2.5 million people live under harsh conditions in Syria. All Syrian people are forced to strive to survive amid fierce attacks by aircraft and heavy weapons. As the conflict continues, ethnic and religious divisions are increasing, and we have lately seen indirect effects of the crisis on neighboring countries.

The international community`s inaction will only serve the Syrian regime, and encourage the despotic regime in Damascus to continue its savage war against civilians. I can even say that those who are still apathetic to the continuing tragedy in Syria will bear their share of responsibility for what is happening there.

(Abbas) What is the solution?

(Davutoglu) Power must be handed over immediately in keeping with the Syrian people`s legitimate demands. To achieve this, Al-Asad and his clan must first quit power to pave the way for a peaceful solution. Al-Asad can no longer participate in any political process after the Syrian opposition declared unequivocally in Doha in the past month that it would not negotiate with Al-Asad. To stop the bloodshed, prompt and decisive measures by the international community are inevitable.

(Abbas) How do you view the latest developments in the Syrian areas that are predominantly inhabited by Kurds?

(Davutoglu) Kurds have been an indivisible part of Syrian society, and will remain so. Kurds, alongside other ethnic and sectarian groups, should enjoy equal political rights and freedom in a democratic Syria, which will be built according to the universal principles of the supremacy of law and respect for human rights. Turkey will continue to be committed to defending the legitimate rights of the Kurdish people in Syria. The Turks (as published) and the rest of the various Syrian ethnicities and religious sects have lived in peace and harmony in this region for centuries. They are more than neighbors, and this is the reason why we all feel and share the pain and suffering with the Syrian people, including the Kurds.

At the same time, we notice that certain terrorist groups are trying to take advantage of the current turmoil in Syria and exploit the unstable situation to serve their own secret purposes. As we talk now, the Syrian regime and terrorists are both engaged in brutal fight against civilians. The country has lost tens of thousands of citizens because of the scourge of terror. Turkey cannot tolerate the steps that the PKK has taken to deploy some of its elements in certain parts of Syria to undermine the country`s territorial integrity and political unity. The latest clashes near our border between the Syrian opposition forces, on the one hand, and the elements of the PKK and the Kurdistan National Democratic Union party, on the ot her, are a source of deep concern for Turkey. Despite this, we know full well that the elements of the Kurdistan Democratic Union party, who behave like militias, do not enjoy the support of the local population, and that their fate will be no different from that of the Syrian regime.

(Abbas) Is the major tension with the PKK linked to developments in the Syrian crisis? Is there any information on the support this organization gives to the Syrian regime?

(Davutoglu) We cannot discount the effects of the Syrian crisis on the PKK`s activities. This terrorist organization and the groups affiliated with it, particularly the Kurdistan Democratic Union party, are trying to take advantage of the transitional period in Syria. Turkey will show no tolerance to the PKK`s terror no matter what its source is.

(Abbas) What impression did you form during your recent visit to the Gaza Strip?

(Davutoglu) Israeli air force and naval forces continued to attack the Gaza Strip until a ceasefire was accepted. The Israelis killed hundreds of Palestinians and the figure may increase quickly as the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip continues to deteriorate. My visit to Gaza, along with my arab officials, was a step to demonstrate our solidarity with and support for our brothers facing Israeli bombardment. We had the opportunity to see and share the Palestinian people their suffering and get direct information on the humanitarian situation in Gaza. During our visit, we asserted to the Palestinians that regardless of what is happening, we will remain for ever in solidarity with the people in Gaza.

We saw the human tragedy resulting from the Israeli bombardment and blockade. We also saw the savage violence the Palestinians in Gaza are facing. The situation in Gaza has again demonstrated the urgent need to achieve a permanent peace. The visit was extremely crucial in sending a message to the world that our brothers in Gaza have not been forgotten, and that they will not be left alone. We sensed the human tragedy resulting from the illegal and unwarranted Israeli blockade of Gaza.

(Abbas) How can the Palestinians emerge from the crisis in Gaza, and what are the guarantees to avert repetition of same scenario in the future?

(Davutoglu) From the beginning, we urged Israel to immediately stop its aggression against Gaza. We called on the international community to take the necessary initiatives to achieve this goal. We said that the Israeli government should end its aggressive policy, and so we welcomed the latest ceasefire between the two parties. For a meaningful peace process to begin Israel should end all its settlement construction activities once and for all. It must also seriously commit to respecting valid resolutions, particularly regarding the 1967 border as contained in the Arab peace plan, which we strongly support. Unless the blockade on Gaza is lifted, it is not realistic to expect peace and stability in the region. Turkey has always encouraged the creation of a Palestinian state based on a two-state solution living together in peace and security. We believe that a fair, comprehensive, and permanent solution should be reached to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict based on UN Security Council resolutions. We constantly support resumption of the negotiations to achieve a comprehensive and permanent peace between the two parties.

We believe that the resolution passed by the vast majority of the UN members granting Palestine a status of non-member observer state on 29 November is a first step toward redressing the historical injustice done to the Palestinian people. We hope this resolution will bolster the peace process that has been frozen for a long time. The status of a non-member observer state granted to the Palestinians is a clear evidence of the will and support of the international community for the need to revive the peace process. It is time for all of us to work for a just and fair peace in the region. Turkey is determined to contribute to the efforts and initiatives aimed at achieving this goal.

(Description of Source: London Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online in Arabic -- Website of influential London-based pan-Arab Saudi daily; editorial line reflects Saudi official stance. URL:

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.

Iran Commentary: Russia Proclaims Syria `Redline`, Warns US Not to Approach
Jomhuri-ye Eslami Online
Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Unattributed commentary: “Is Syria Russia`s Redline?”

Following the arrival of American and Russian warships and aircraft carriers in Syrian waters, now one of the biggest confrontations of the two countries has been marked since the Cold War. This is exactly at a time when the West`s new conspiracy about Syria`s chemical weapons is in the process of shaping public opinion and America has also announced its readiness for any kind of military action against Bashar al-Asad. In return, through its messages to America, NATO, and the Arab League, Moscow has said that it will not allow the Libyan story to repeat in Syria this time.

This news was released at a time when America and Russia have recently entered a serious confrontation regarding the US missile defense shield and Moscow threatened Washington with the deployment of its own missiles on European borders. The collection of these incidents has caused a complicated situation surrounding the Syrian crisis and has taken the situation to the verge of creating a dangerous condition in the relations between the two countries. Therefore, the evaluation of events which have led to the creation of such conditions can determine the dimensions of the sensitivity of crisis.

It seems like the more the situation moves toward the depths of the defeat of the “Western-Arab” front in Syria, their psychological propaganda against Syria increases. A new wave of these political and propaganda pressures which began two months ago has now reached its peak. The truth is that after the unsuccessful conspiracies and tricks of the anti-Syrian front in overthrowing the government of Bashar al-Asad and the efforts to change an equation which emerged with the Islamic awakening in the countries of the region and its inversion against the Islamic resistance, the West has lately raised the issue of the existence of chemical weapons in order for its direct military presence and for finding a legal permission for military intervention in Syria.

Perhaps today the answer to the question of what the West, led by America, is seeking by raising the controversy surrounding the Syrian chemical weapons is clearer than ever. Raising the subject of the existence of chemical weapons in a country and the danger of its possible use for the security of the region is not an issue that is being raised for the first time. A similar excuse to this was previously raised about Saddam`s regime and the subject of the existence of nuclear weapons in Iraq was turned into an excuse for America to attack Iraq militarily. When America started similarly accusing Syria regarding the possibility of using chemical weapons against the opposition, some knew that this time the US administration had once again taken action without any calculation and evidence solely for the purpose of finding an excuse and preparing the ground for military intervention in the Syrian crisis. Certainly ominous and warmongering goals are being pursued behind this propaganda bubble which will naturally not be hidden from the eyes of the Russians.

The Westerns` tactic in this conspiracy is exactly the same tactic that Goebbels utilized as Hitler`s propaganda minister. He believed that for shaping public opinion and placing an issue in (public`s) mind, one should resort to deception. He officially said that the bigger the lie, the more the possibility of people believing it! Therefore Americans and other allied nations through resorting to this method have placed the subject of Syria`s chemical weapons on their propaganda agenda. But they did not pay attention to the fact that free nations know that these lies are told by those who used all types of banned chemical weapons in wars such as Vietnam and Korea against defenseless people, and most importantly used nuclear weapons in bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Now considering America`s propaganda and scenario making, the danger that threatens Syria right now are rebels and terrorists of Syria gaining access to chemical weapons and using them against the supporters of the Syrian Government and town residents, and then subsequently announcing that the Syrian Government has used chemical weapon and in this way pave the way for military intervention in Syria. But today despite several consecutive weeks of the Westerners` propaganda efforts to accuse the Syrian political system, it has become clearer than ever for the public opinion of Muslim nations that the Syrian Government has no plans to use chemical weapons against the opposition, and that the greatest threat is when these weapons fall into the hands of terrorists and militia opposing the Syrian Government.

However, in order to tighten the circle of siege around Syria and to prepare the grounds for America`s intervention in that country, NATO has deployed a collection of Patriot missiles on the border of Turkey with Syria in order to be able to cover the next military action against Syria. It is in these conditions that, by observing US warships approaching the Syrian waters, Russia initiates the deployment of its warships and aircraft carriers to Syrian waters and naturally cannot play the role of a spectator.

The question that arises in these sensitive conditions and circumstances when Syrian waters have become the scene of war preparations and deployment of American and Russian military equipment is how far Moscow will go in this confrontation and whether it is serious and steadfast in its decision to support the government of Bashar al-Asad.

In responding to this fundamental question it must be said that the evidence indicates that Russia has decided to retrieve its lost position in the international arena and especially in the Middle East which was severely damaged and it is for this reason that it has placed the support of Syria against the threats of the West, especially America, in the center of its strategies. Therefore, in a message to Washington, (Russia) called Syria a `redline` and stressed that if anyone approaches this redline, they will have Moscow in front of them and that Russia will not be a spectator anymore.

(Description of Source: Tehran Jomhuri-ye Eslami Online in Persian -- Website of conservative daily officially licensed to Supreme Leader Khamene`i, but aligned with Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani;

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.

Davutoglu says Assad has 700 missiles, Ankara knows location
Trend News Agency (Azerbaijan)
December 05, 2012

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has claimed that the Syrian regime has some 700 missiles and that Ankara exactly knows where they are, how they are stored and who control them Today`s Zaman reported. Speaking to Turkish Sabah daily, Davutoglu said they have tackled what he called a “pshycological edge” in Syria and instead of worring about how the Syrian regime would revenge if it becomesvictorous, “we are not considering what we will do once the regime`s gone.”

Turkey wants to reinforce its air defences to deal with the threat of ballistic missiles from Syria, particularly a potential chemical weapons` threat.

He said the reason why Ankara requested the deployment of Patriot missiles was to be cautious against actions of “uncontrolled groups,” without elaborating if he was referring to groups linked to the Syrian regime or other militant groups.

NATO agreed on Tuesday to send Patriot missiles to Turkey to defend against a possible Syrian missile attack. NATO says the measure is purely defensive, but Russia, Syria and Iran have criticised the decision, saying it increases regional instability.

NATO-member Turkey repeatedly has scrambled jets along the countries` joint frontier and responded in kind when shells from the Syrian conflict came down inside its borders, fuelling fears that the civil war could spread to destabilize the region.

Davutoglu added that many things have been done to push Turkey to a point where Ankara would consider intervention in Syria. “We always acted in restraint,” he said, noting that Turkey exactly knows where the nearly 700 rockets are, how they are stored and who control them. He claimed that some of the missiles the Syrian regime owns are long-range.

Davutoglu dismissed claims that there are contention between Turkey and NATO over the number of Patriot missile batteries and said the complete air defense system is made up of three stages and Patriot missile system is providing defense for only short-range threats. He said Terminal High Altitude Air Defence (THAD) air defense system will shield against middle-range threats and rockets that could go out of atmosphere (referring to troposphere) will be intercepted by AEGIS in the Mediterranean.

Germany, the Netherlands and the United States plan to provide Patriot missile batteries there is no mention of details on numbers. Deployment is expected to take several weeks, given the need for approval by national parliaments and the logistics of delivering the missiles.

Turkish foreign minister said Turkey has very high national defensive power against conventional threats but also complained about shortcomings in its defense against rocket attacks. He said the nature of threat is changing and that a threat should not have come from one country but also groups.

“It is imperative for Turkey to renew its anti-missile defense system with its national capacity and also through NATO,” Davutoglu stressed.

Speaking about a political solution in Syria, Davutoglu said a change in Syria means a period with Assad. He said Ankara wants Assad to quit to pave the way for a transitional government. Russia suggests, he said, Assad should leave under a normal process while establishing a transitional government. “We are on the same page with Russia regarding the goal. But we need to talk on methods,” Davutoglu said.

Davutoglu said that Ankara offered a formula to the Assad regime through Iran seven months ago but the Assad regime rejected. He said the Syrian regime says they are now ready to consider that formula, which says the transitional government should have the full authority and that the process could move forward with the current government. Davutoglu noted that the Syrian opposition, as it gains ground, says they are not fine with interim formulas after violence in this proportions.

Russia, which has a fractious relationship with the military alliance, has been at odds with NATO over how to end the war and has vetoed UN resolutions aimed at pressuring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

© 2012 Trend News Agency. Copyright for the present information is reserved, in case of reprint of any part of it reference should be done to the Agency.






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