US: Syria's leadership showing fissures
The US has announced new sanctions on Syria in hopes of dividing the business elite from the government. But Turkey has surprised its American allies by patiently pursuing diplomacy instead.
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A Hurriyet Daily News columnist writes that Assad's weakness is what has maintained Turkey's support – he poses no challenge to Prime Minister Erdogan or Turkey. They're also afraid of who might take his place if he is forced out.Skip to next paragraph
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That is the reason why Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan reacted in anger to the Turkish main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu when the latter asked, “What are you going to do when your patience is exhausted? Are you going to go for a military intervention?” Everybody concerned knows there are no conditions for military intervention in Syria; like Libya or Iraq. And Assad knows that one of his main powers keeping him in his chair is his weakness.
Syrian activists are concerned that the elevated level of brutality since the beginning of Ramadan – troops invaded yet another town today, this time near the Turkish border – will prompt the protesters to abandon their vow of nonviolence. In the east, extensive tribal networks are well-armed and have support from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Iraq, the New York Times reports.
Syria's leadership, which has presented a united front throughout the uprising, is beginning to show fault lines – support from the business elite is declining, former government supporters are putting distance between themselves and Assad, and signs of disagreement are surfacing among officials, the Times said.
In Damascus this week, 41 former Baathists and government officials took a step that would have been unthinkable for party stalwarts not long ago: They announced an initiative for a political transition. Led by Mohammed Salman, a former information minister with deep connections to the leadership closest to Mr. Assad, the group urged an end to the crackdown, the deployment of the military, and the relentless arrest campaign.
Otherwise, the group warned, the country was headed for “catastrophic results.”
Defection looks most likely among the businessmen, who have reached out to the opposition and tried to keep channels of communication open as they hedge their bets, the Times reports. “They’re starting to turn to us, to the United States, and say, ‘What can we do? How can we help?’ ” a US official told the Times. “The domino effect is going to go even faster for the Sunni business elite, and that’s when you’ll see Damascus go up in flames.
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