Not long after the Arab Spring began, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, then an ally, that he had to reform. After months, as the Syrian revolution continued and there was no sign of reform, Erdogan called for Assad to step down. Erdogan has allowed the Syrian opposition to make its base in Turkey and has remained in the forefront of the fight for regime change. The Washington Post’s Lally Weymouth spoke with Erdogan in Ankara on Tuesday. Excerpts:
How do you see the future of the regime of President Assad in Syria? You know Assad well; you had a close relationship with him. Do you think he will go down with the ship, or will he leave his country? What do you think will happen?
If we look at history, we will see that regimes which persecute [their people] do not remain standing. In the process of the Arab Spring, we have unfortunately seen a development in Syria where the regime has been oppressing its people. Tens of thousands of young and old people and children have been killed or displaced as a result of these actions. This cruel regime continues to pursue the same policies.
We have 83,000 refugees in Turkey, and the Lebanese have about the same amount, and there are about 200,000 in Jordan. These people have not fled their country because they wanted to. Also, there are currently 2.5 million people within Syria who have been displaced; close to 30,000people have been killed in this conflict.
As a result, we see the opposition gaining strength every day. So this regime will go. Bashar is politically dead. Of course, it is difficult to tell whether this will take place in a week, a month or when. This also has to do with how Russia and China approach the situation......."