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Terrorism & Security

Turkey risks Syria's friendship in last-ditch effort to end violence

Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoğlu is in Damascus today to warn Syria's President Assad against continuing his crackdown on the country's uprising.

By Staff writer / August 9, 2011

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (l) meets with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in Damascus August 9. Davutoğlu arrived in Syria on Tuesday to give Assad a robust message about the need to halt a military assault on protesters.

Hakan Goktepe/Turkish Foreign Ministry/Reuters

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Turkey is today sharply ratcheting up the pressure on Syria, warning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that he could risk "Saddam-like" isolation if he does not halt his brutal crackdown on Syrian protesters.

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As Syria's friend, neighbor, and largest trading partner, Turkey considers the issue to be primarily of domestic concern. But its outspoken demands for Syria could precipitate wider international action.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is personally conveying the message to President Assad in Damascus, where representatives of India, South Africa, and Brazil were also arriving today to push for an end to violence. Assad already faces condemnation from the UN Security Council, Saudi Arabia, the Arab League, and the Gulf Cooperation Council. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain have withdrawn their ambassadors to Damascus.

However, Assad's regime is seemingly unperturbed by its growing isolation. An editorial published Tuesday in the ruling Baath Party's newspaper said the regime is hopeful that "Turkey and the Gulf Arab nations will 'quickly correct their stands'," the Associated Press reports.

The editorial was a reference to harsh criticism by Turkey's Prime Minister Erdoğan over the weekend, Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News reported in an article published Sunday.

The outcome of Davutoğlu’s meeting with al-Assad will determine the course of Turkish policy vis-a-vis Syria, Turkish officials said, signaling that Ankara has come close to abandoning the Syrian president and considering international measures that may lead to his “Saddam-like” isolation.

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