Turkey: We’ve intercepted 3 Syria-bound weapons shipments from Iran
London, Asharq Al-Awsat- The situations in Syria entered a new stage yesterday with signs of Arab-international-regional manoeuvrings emerging, which could lead to fundamental changes in the handling of the Syrian crisis.
Next to the extraordinary session that the Arab initiative committee will hold next Saturday to discuss the Syrian Government’s failure to implement its obligations which it accepted in the Arab action plan for resolving the Syrian crisis, sources in the Syrian opposition have disclosed they have received promises that the UN Security Council [UNSC] will hold a session after the Arab meeting to discuss a UN resolution to send international observers to Syria while Turkey has expressed its “readiness and ability” to establish a buffer zone on condition of getting an “Arab and international cover.”
Turkish sources have told Asharq Al-Awsat that Ankara is coordinating on a “high-level” with both Qatar that chairs the Arab initiative and with the Arab League [AL] and Washington. They said Turkey was going to announce several sanctions in a message that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan was scheduled to address to the Syrians during his inspection of their camps inside Turkey but that was postponed “so as to make room for the Arab initiative and see what results it will have.” But the sources pointed out that “with the escalation in the situation and the stalling of the initiative, Turkey might raise the (sanctions) issue again.” They added that Turkey was holding contacts with the UNSC member countries that are still hesitant, especially Brazil and South Africa which have very close ties with Turkey, in order to persuade them to take a different stand.
The Turkish sources disclosed that Ankara has imposed what could be described as sanctions on Damascus, like its total ban on the entry of weapons to Syria, this includes stopping three previous shipments from Iran, in addition to “the careful examination” of particular banking transfers to businessmen loyal to the regime so as to pressure and prevent them from supporting it. They cited Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu about his country’s readiness to impose a buffer zone all along the borders to protect the civilians and stressing that his country “has the readiness and ability to impose the buffer zone but we need an Arab and international cover.”
Meanwhile, sources in the Syrian opposition have told Asharq Al-Awsat they have received promises of holding a new UNSC session this week whose agenda will include a draft resolution to send a team of observers to Syria. They pointed out that the mission of the “blue berets” would be to watch the Syrian violations and hence protect the demonstrators from the daily killings.
On his part, Radwan Ziyadah, member of the Syrian National Council, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the AL’s next meeting on Saturday could be decisive “because the regime has been given three chances so far and squandered them all. I believe this is enough to force the hesitant countries to take a stand.” He pointed out that “it is obvious that the Syrian regime will not stop the killings but on the contrary, it is using all the army’s firing power in shelling the cities” and added: “Things will be better if it (the AL) takes the right decision, demands international protection, and authorizes the UNSC to take the appropriate resolution. It will then be impossible for Russia and China to use the (veto) or even abstain from voting.” He said “it would be a mockery and ridiculous for the AL to give the regime more chances after all it has done” and noted in return that the Syrian opposition’s contacts with AL Secretary General Nabil Elaraby “showed an unusual seriousness” in addition to the opposition’s contacts with countries Ziyadah described as “hesitant” such as Sudan and Algeria which “showed a change in stands.”