Turkey involved in Syria’s future talks

The Syrian opposition in France says it will hold talks with Turkey, while France has promised to protect Syrian dissidents against threats. Meanwhile, a UN body calls for urgent action to stop civilian killings, which is refused by Russia and China

Syrians living in Turkey wave Turkish and Syrian flags as they protest against the government of Syria in Istanbul Nov 25. REUTERS photo

Syrians living in Turkey wave Turkish and Syrian flags as they protest against the government of Syria in Istanbul Nov 25. REUTERS photo

Syria’s main opposition group will discuss the future of Syria with Turkey and said it will cut its military ties with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas if they come to power, while France said it took action to protect the Syrian dissidents in its country against threats.
“There will be no special relationship with Iran,” Burhan Ghalioun, the leader of the Syrian National Council (SNC), told The Wall Street Journal Nov. 30 at his home in south Paris. “Breaking the exceptional relationship means breaking the strategic military alliance. After the fall of the Syrian regime, [Hezbollah] won’t be the same.” On Dec. 2, the Syrian consulate in Turkey’s southeastern province of Gaziantep has been closed, according to Doğan news agency. “Consulate will be closed until further notice,” a sign hung on the consulate’s door said. The consulate, headed by Muhammed Necdet Şehit, was opened in 2005.
France’s Interior Minister Claude Gueant would not provide details of the security measures or the nature of the threats, but he said the measures affect members of the SNC. “A certain number of threats have appeared concerning Syrian citizens, notably opposition figures, living in our country. Of course measures have been taken to ensure the protection of these Syrian citizens,” Gueant said. “We know the Syrian state is violent and does not hesitate to resort to threats,” Gueant said. SNC will meet Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to talk about the issues of civilian protection and an intervention in Syria, Ghalioun said. “[SNC] will be discussing with all sides – the Arab League and the Western nations and Turkey – to see which mechanisms are most viable. There is no developed plan yet,” Ghalioun said about civilian protection and other intervention options in Syria.

SNC calls for pressure on Russia and China
He said they do not want an intervention like in Iraq or Libya. “We want the international community to stop the oppression of the Syrian people.” He also said the SNC asked the international community to apply pressure on Russia and China and to make use of all civilian protection measures. “This is why [French Foreign Minister Alain] Juppe called for a humanitarian corridor,” he said. Ghalioun said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received several offers of asylum from countries including the Arab League and Turkey.
A U.N. body said Dec. 2 that 307 children were killed in Syria since March, but the call was criticized by envoys from China and Russia. More than 4,000 people have been killed in the military crackdown since March and more than 14,000 people are believed to be held in detention, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Dec. 2 at an emergency session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, “The Syrian authorities’ continual ruthless repression, if not stopped now, can drive the country into a full-fledged civil war.”
Russia’s envoy Valery Loshchinin said, “We would like to warn against illegal interference by outside forces. This will have serious and unforeseen consequences.” Iran said Nov. 30 it was against any foreign intervention in Syria. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has said Iran was opposed to any measure that would pave the way for the interference of outsiders in Syria’s internal affairs. Meanwhile, Syrian army deserters killed eight people in an attack on an intelligence building in the north of the country, an opposition group said Dec. 2.

Compiled from AFP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.

December/02/2011

GENEVA / WASHINGTON