Turkey's Erdogan slams Russia, China, Iran over Syria

ISTANBUL Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:14pm EDT

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Russia, China and Iran on Thursday, saying their stance on the crisis in neighboring Syria was allowing a massacre to go on unabated.

Erdogan has been one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's harshest critics, accusing him of creating a "terrorist state", allowing the Syrian opposition to organize on Turkish soil, and pushing for a foreign-protected safe zone inside Syria.

Washington sees Turkey as the key player in supporting Syria's opposition and planning for the post-Assad era, but Ankara has found itself increasingly isolated and frustrated by a lack of international consensus on how to end the chaos.

"The main source of disappointment is Russia. Let alone raising its voice against Syria, it stands by the massacre," Erdogan said in an interview broadcast live on Turkish television station NTV.

"China stands by Russia, and although (Chinese President) Hu Jintao had told me they wouldn't veto the plan (for a safe zone) for a third time, they did at the U.N. vote," Erdogan said.

He described Iran's position on the 18-month-old uprising against Assad as "impossible to understand".

World leaders meeting at the United Nations this week have expressed concern at the continuing violence in Syria but remain deadlocked over their response.

The United States, European allies, Turkey and Gulf Arab states have sided with the Syrian opposition while Iran, Russia and China have backed Assad, whose family and minority Alawite sect have dominated Syria for 42 years.

Protection for rebel-held areas in Syria would require no-fly zones enforced by foreign aircraft, which could stop deadly air raids by Assad's forces. But there is little chance of securing a Security Council mandate for such action given the opposition of veto-wielding members Russia and China.

China insists any solution to Syria's crisis must come from within the country, while Russia has said many Syrians still support Assad.

Erdogan had been due to travel to New York to join the U.N. General Assembly meetings but cancelled his trip at the last minute. Officials cited a heavy work schedule ahead of a key ruling party congress on Sunday, but some observers said it was a sign of frustration at the international deadlock.

The violence in Syria is spiraling as Assad responds to rebel military gains with air strikes and artillery bombardment, killing hundreds every day and sending close to 300,000 refugees into neighboring Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey.

"Assad's days are numbered," Erdogan said. "He may have to leave soon, he can't resist this anymore."

(Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Writing by Nick Tattersall; editing by Jason Webb.)

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Comments (1)
wrmullis wrote:
This is a disengenuous article. The Turks know very well what is going on in Syria. The United States perhaps in concert with Israel is undertaking a regime change quest in Syria to overthrow Bashar Al-Assad’s government in order to nutralize Hezbolla so that Iran’s nuclear sites can be destroyed. If these steps are not done before Iran’s nuclear facilities are bombed, then Hezbolla and Hamas will unleash up to 100,000 rockets and missiles on Israel along with a counter-attack from Iran. If the U.S. attempts to enforce a no fly zone over Syria, then Russia will get involved against the U.S. and American warplanes will drop out of the skies like flies. China is buying oil from Iran and if the U.S. enforces a naval blockcade against Iran and boards Chinese oil tankers that will be an act of war against China. This situation can explode and result in a global war making the deaths of 20,000 Syrians a drop in the bucket. What is going on in the Middle East is extremely dangerous and the American people are not being told the truth by most of the media. Israel feels the need to strike against Iran for its safety, but if that happens the Middle East is going to explode.

Sep 29, 2012 10:40pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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