Today’s Zaman reports:
Turkey has delivered a blunt message to the Syrian leadership, saying the regime’s willingness to undertake sweeping reforms in the unrest-laden country will determine the position of Turkey in the coming days, if not weeks, diplomatic sources told Today’s Zaman.
The Turkish response to Syria will be shaped by how the regime responds to unrest engulfing the country and whether or not the promise of switching to a multi-party system to reflect the diversity and pluralism of Syrian society will materialize, the same source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
According to an incremental plan, Turkey will start supporting tougher UN resolutions if the regime fails to live up to the expectations of the international community. The strongest message yet to the Syrian leadership was conveyed by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who spoke with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s special envoy, Hassan Turkmani, earlier this week. “We underlined that Turkish support to Syria hinges on the willingness of the Syrian government to adopt sweeping reforms in the country. We detailed our suggestions before and even relayed a written proposal to Damascus on how they should proceed to stabilize the country,” the source explained.
The Assad regime is dominated by the Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, but the country is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim. Alawite dominance has bred resentment, which Assad has worked to tamp down by pushing a strictly secular identity in Syria. But the president now appears to be relying heavily on his Alawite power base, beginning with highly placed Assad relatives, to crush the resistance.