Assad Charges Turkey Protecting Israel
Syria's embattled Bashar al-Assad said Wednesday that Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is meddling in Damascus' affairs to protect Israel.
Why didn’t Erdogan "do anything after the Marmara ship incident except shouting? Why did he challenge Israel, and then suddenly agreed to deploy the missile shield in Turkey?" Assad asked during an interview with DP news.
"Did he deploy it in order to protect Turkey from the attack of a hostile country? Did America build these bases in order to protect itself against this region? Which country in the region has the capability to threaten America?
"No country," Assad answered himself. "So, the answer is that he deployed it to protect Israel. These circumstances revealed Erdogan’s reality, no more, no less. Erdogan hasn’t changed."
"What has changed is the way the people of the region look at him. He has failed on the Arab arena. He no longer exists, neither him nor his credibility," Assad said.
The Syrian president's charges came as a mounting crisis over the July 22 downing of a Turkish military jet by Syria looks set to boil over.
Both nations have deployed troops along their mutual frontier in recent weeks in a sign that the souring relations between the former allies have reached a nadir.
Assad charged that the blame for the current crisis rested solely with Erdogan's government.
"First of all, we have to identify who changed," Assad said. "Look at Syria’s relations with other countries and you’ll find that our relations with Iraq, Iran, Jordan and other countries have not changed and remain the same."
"On the other hand, you can see that Turkey’s relations with most countries of the region, not only with Syria, have changed. As far as we are concerned, what changed on the Turkish side is that in the first stage of the crisis.
"Turkey transgressed against the brotherly relations with Syria and started to interfere directly in Syrian affairs, which is absolutely unacceptable for us in Syria. We are an independent country which respects itself and respects its sovereignty," Assad said.
The Syrian president then went on to accuse Turkey of openly backing the rebels of the Free Syrian Army, whose commanders have taken refuge on Ankara's side of the border.
"Later on, the Turkish government started to get involved in the bloody events in Syria by providing logistic support to the terrorists who have been killing innocent people," Assad said. "The Turkish government started adopting policies which are dangerous both to the Turkish people and the Syrian people."
Assad also directly accused Erdogan of cynically using the crisis in Syria for his own political ends, suggesting the Turkish premier mind his own business.
"Has he suddenly felt love, affection and concern for the Syrian people? Is it logical that he should feel more concerned for the Syrian people than I do?" Assad asked.
"What would you say about me if I told you that I am more concerned about the Turkish people than you are as a Turkish citizen? You would no doubt say that this is hypocrisy.
"Let Erdogan concern himself with his internal affairs and not with others’ in order to preserve what remains of the zero-problem policy that can be implemented."
Assad also said the way out of the current crisis with Turkey was for Erdogan to back down and alter his policy towards Assad's regime.
"The way out is that the Turkish government corrects the mistakes it made in dealing with the Syrian situation, not manipulating or exploiting any event in order to create big problems," Assad said.
Erdogan also needs to put "the interests of the Syrian and Turkish people before the narrow personal interests of their officials." Assad said. "Erdogan is shedding the tears of hypocrites for the Syrian people."