Reyhanli a continuation of Banias massacre: Arab League envoy

“With the Reyhanlı incident, the regime wants to send a message to the international community that it has a strong hand in the event of negotiations,” said Naciri, the representative of the Arab League in Turkey.

Reyhanli a continuation of Banias massacre: Arab League envoy

World Bulletin/News Desk                        

A deadly blast in Hatay's town of Reyhanlı, which is located on the border with Syria, that killed at least 51 people is a continuation of the large-scale massacre committed by Syrian regime forces in Banias, a predominantly Sunni city on the Mediterranean coast of Syria, said Mohamed El Fatah Naciri, the representative of the Arab League in Turkey.

A pair of car bombs killed 51 people and injured as many as 100 in Reyhanlı on Saturday and raised tensions between Turks and Syrians in Hatay, which is hosting a large number of Syrian refugees.

“In Banias, the regime tried to pit Alawites against Sunnis. It aims for the same thing in Reyhanlı. Obviously, the Reyhanlı case is the continuation of Banias,” said Naciri to Today's Zaman at the Arab League mission in Ankara.

Naciri also maintained that the Syrian regime is aiming to use the Alawites in Turkey against the Syrian refugees, adding that some Alawites in Turkey are manipulated by the Mukhabarat, Syria's intelligence agency.

Naciri said Alawites in Turkey are not so stupid as to play into the hands of President Bashar al-Assad. “There are some of them [Alawites] funded by the nasty Syrian regime; however, this is an exception,” said Naciri.

Naciri stated that the regime was doing its utmost to destabilize Turkey, urging Turkish authorities to be more cautious over the Syrian frontier.

“Turkish security forces, army and intelligence should be on alert. The Reyhanlı incident was not expected, but more efforts must be made to maintain security,” said Naciri.

Although Syria has denied involvement, Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has blamed Syria for the bombings, and Turkish police arrested nine Turks in connection with the attacks.

“With the Reyhanlı incident, the regime wants to send a message to the international community that it has a strong hand in the event of negotiations,” said Naciri.

Frustrated by the more than two-year-long Syrian crisis, Russia and the US agreed to seek new peace talks between the Syrian opposition and the regime to end Syria's civil war.

“The Russians started to back down from their strong position. In case of a compromise between the Americans and the Russians, the regime will be cornered and will seriously consider the establishment of an Alawite state in Syria. If the international community fails to intervene effectively, creation of such a state will be a strong possibility,” said Naciri.

The creation of an Alawite state by Assad, who is staunchly supported by Russia, is believed to be a longtime plan of Syria's president.

Arming rebels, regime is not a solution to crisis

Regional and global powers should come together to discuss solutions to end the conflict in Syria, said Naciri, adding that the solution was not to arm the opposition or the regime but to end the conflict.

“The regime is approaching its end. That is why it has increased its violent acts, to display its power,” said Naciri.

The ambassador also maintained that if the international community fails to find a solution from the US-Russia initiative, then intervention in Syria will be inevitable as the security and the stability of the region are at serious risk.

Appreciating Turkey's policy of self-restraint regarding Syria, Naciri noted that the Republic of Turkey, throughout its history, has always avoided using arms against a Muslim state. “Syria is not a Turkish problem, but an international one. The international community failed to fulfill its promises [to aid Syrian refugees] to Turkey, and the country is left alone [to handle the problem],” said Naciri.

Naciri stated that the international community has given a wrong message to the Syrian regime by saying that the use of chemical weapons against people was a “red line.” “This situation has encouraged the Syrian regime to kill the country's people with Scud missiles,” said Naciri.

Naciri also appreciated the conditions in the Syrian refugee camps, saying a delegation of Arab League and Arab health ministers were impressed by the situation of Syrians during their visit to the container city in the town of Harran in southeastern Şanlıurfa province in early May.

“Turkey has a good record on the refugee issue. Turkey considers Syrians as brothers rather than refugees. That is the reason behind the special treatment given to Syrians in the camps,” said Naciri.

Last Mod: 16 Mayıs 2013, 10:21
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