Turkish Leader Urges Opening of Syrian Aid Corridors

Turkey urges “immediate” foreign intervention to stop the “bloodshed” in Syria.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey addresses the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 28, 2010
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey addresses the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 28, 2010 (UNAOC)

Turkey’s prime minister on Tuesday urged the “immediate” opening of humanitarian aid corridors in neighboring Syria and warned that the “bloodshed” in the country “will not be left unaccounted for.”

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who leads Turkey’s ruling conservative party, told parliament that the Syrian army is “butchering its own people, pointing its guns at the masses.” He described the crackdown of anti-government protests there as “inhumane savagery.”

France has since November argued that other countries should secure humanitarian corridors in Syria to allow food and medicine to reach civilians who are caught up in the nearly yearlong struggle between rebel militias and forces that are loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia has been notably critical of attempts at intervention. When asked about the French plan, the Russian foreign minister insisted last month that international action should not “help legitimize” regime change in Damascus.

After fostering diplomatic and trade relations with Syria for several years, Erdoğan has vocally distanced himself and his country from the Ba’athist regime since protests escalated in the country last year. It is now on the brink of civil war while the world has failed to come up with a unified response to the violence.

The government in Ankara has been anxious to position itself as a champion of the Arab revolutionary cause even if it was quite willing to work with the authoritarian leadership in Egypt and Syria before unrest broke out in these countries last year.

A Syrian National Council has been allowed to headquarter in Istanbul while Turkey refuses to close its southern border with Syria for refugees.

For months, there has been talk of Turkey erected a “buffer zone” in the north of Syria where civilians could shelter but without international backing, it is hesitant to go further.

The Turkish foreign minister on Tuesday criticized the “Cold War mindset” of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council who have blocked foreign meddling in Syria. He argued that “no state has the right to attack civilians on such a massive scale using the value of national sovereignty” which China and Russia have cited to justify their vetoes of resolutions that would have called on President Assad to step down.

Ahmet Davutoğlu, who was in the Netherlands to celebrate four hundred of diplomatic relations between the two nations, said in an interview with Dutch television that “no leader, no regime can sustain with such an approach [of] attacking their own people.”

He previously told French24 that Turkey was “ready to do everything for [the] Syrian people and said the demands of the country’s opposition were “right demands.”