Turkey's President Abdullah Gul warned Britain's Royal Society Wednesday in London that Syria has “come to a point of no return.”
The government crackdown on civilian protesters by President Bashar al-Assad that began in March, said Gul, has exacerbated Sunni-Shi'ite tensions that already have threatened the region.
The Turkish president urged Syria's opposition to reach out and embrace the country's minorities, warning of a divide that could pitch the Muslim world back into the “darkness of the Middle Ages.”
The Ankara government warned its citizens returning from the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia not to travel overland as they usually do, through Syria, but rather to travel by air.
In cases where travel by road is unavoidable, said the government, “journeys through Syria should be done during daylight hours.”
Assad's violence, said Gul, could easily “drag the whole region into turmoil and bloodshed.”
A second Egyptian revolution was brewing in Cairo's Tahrir Square even as Gul told British policymakers, “Violence breeds violence. Now, unfortunately, Syria has come to a point of no return.”
Egypt has not yet reached that point, although its government has. Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi agreed to resign, the entire Cabinet stepped down, parliamentary elections are set to begin next Monday, and presidential elections are to be held by next June. But thousands of demonstrators are continuing to protest in Tahrir Square for a fourth day, and 23 people are dead, with more than a thousand injured.
Egyptian authorities who allegedly fired tear gas canisters and rubber bullets were reportedly caught using live fire instead. British Foreign Secretary William Hague slammed the violence in statement in which he condemned “the unacceptable violence and loss of life... I am particularly concerned by reports of dangerous forms of gas being used against protesters as well as live ammunition... All those who are responsible for such disproportionate violence against peaceful protesters must be held to account,” Hague said.