In a possible game changer, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last night lashed out at the violent government attacks against Syrian democracy protestors, calling the Syrian government’s actions, “savagery.” He said the continued police and army attacks against civilians were “unpalatable.” Human rights groups have estimated more than 1,000 civilians have been gunned down by Syrian forces since the protests began.
Erdogan also said Turkey could back a UN Security Council decision against the country.
Turkey shares a border with Syria. As the Assad regime’s attacks against Syrian towns and cities have intensified, thousands of Syrians are reported to be fleeing across the border into Turkey.
Until last night’s speech, Erdogan has been an ally with Syrian authorities and he has recently tilted toward Iranian regime, which also is close to Syria. The Turkish break may signal the loss of a major supporter for Assad.
As with Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, the Obama White House has been slow to support pro-democracy movements in Syria or pressure the government to end violence against its own citizens. Early into the protests, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described Assad as a “reformer.” Finally on May 28, Clinton broke her silence by condemning the Syrian violence. But she ruled out any action against Damascus.
On June 1 Australian foreign minister Kevin Rudd said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should be tried for war crimes for unleashing police and the military against his own people.
“I believe it is high time that the Security Council now consider a formal referral of President Assad to the International Criminal Court,” Rudd said.