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Turkey to slap sanctions on Syria despite UN vote
Turkey will impose its own sanctions on Syria despite the U.N. Security Council's failure to adopt a resolution that would have hinted at future international measures against Damascus, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.
October 5, 2011 12:58 by p.deleon
Russia and China vetoed the European-drafted UN resolution on Tuesday, handing Syrian President Bashar Assad a diplomatic victory as his security forces pursue a violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests.
Speaking in South Africa, Erdogan lamented the failure of the resolution, but said it would not deter Turkey from launching its own sanctions against Assad’s government.
“Naturally the veto…cannot prevent sanctions,” Erdogan said. “We will of necessity implement a package of sanctions.”
Erdogan has said he will announce the package after he visits a Syrian refugee camp in Turkey in the next few days.
The move heralds a further deterioration in previously friendly relations between Ankara and Damascus since the start of Assad’s deadly crackdown on protesters in March.
At least 2,700 civilians have been killed in Syria, by a U.N. count. Damascus blames the unrest on foreign-backed armed gangs, who it says have killed 700 security personnel.
“The (Syrian) leadership is losing the respect of its people,” Erdogan told a diplomatic meeting in Pretoria.
“We see the leadership in Syria is not taking the necessary steps despite promises of reform.”
Dismayed by Assad’s failure to heed repeated entreaties to stop the violence, Turkey has begun piling pressure on Syria.
On Tuesday, a Syrian colonel who has emerged as one of the leaders of armed resistance to the 45-year-old president’s rule revealed that he had been given sanctuary in Turkey.
The Turkish military was due to begin a nine-day exercise in the southern province of Hatay, bordering Syria, on Wednesday.
Syria’s political opposition groups have met in Istanbul several times in the past few months. On Sunday the newly formed Syrian National Council said the world was obliged to protect the Syrian people, though it rejected any foreign intervention that endangered Syria’s sovereignty.
Erdogan also said relations with Israel still remain frigid.
Turkey’s ties with Israel began to unravel in late 2008, after Erdogan voiced outrage at an Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip, ruled by the Palestinian Islamist Hamas group.
Turkey reacted angrily last month to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to apologise for an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that killed nine Turks in May 2010.
Erdogan said relations cannot improve until an apology is issued and compensation paid. “The international community must tell Israel they are not above the law,” he declared. (By Peroshni Govender; Additional reporting by Daren Butler in Istanbul; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Alistair Lyon)