Turkey to slap sanctions on Syria despite UN vote

Erdogan laments failure of resolution vetoed by Russia, China; says Syrian leadership is "losing the respect of its people."

By REUTERS, JORDANA HORN
October 5, 2011 13:24
2 minute read.
United Nations Security Council [file]

United Nations Security Council 311 (R). (photo credit: ERIC THAYER / Reuters)

 
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Turkey will impose its own sanctions on Syria despite the UN Security Council's failure to adopt a resolution that would have hinted at future international measures against Damascus, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.

Russia and China vetoed the European-drafted UN resolution on Tuesday, handing Syrian President Bashar Assad a diplomatic victory as his security forces pursue a violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

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Speaking in South Africa, Erdogan lamented the failure of the resolution, but said it would not deter Turkey from launching its own sanctions against Assad's government.

"Naturally the veto...cannot prevent sanctions," Erdogan said. "We will of necessity implement a package of sanctions." Erdogan has said he will announce the package after he visits a Syrian refugee camp in Turkey in the next few days.

The move heralds a further deterioration in previously friendly relations between Ankara and Damascus since the start of Assad's deadly crackdown on protesters in March. The United Nations says Syrian military operations against demonstrators have killed at least 2,700 civilians.

"The (Syrian) leadership is losing the respect of its people," Erdogan told a diplomatic meeting in Pretoria. "We see the leadership in Syria is not taking the necessary steps despite promises of reform." Dismayed by Assad's failure to heed repeated entreaties to stop the violence, Turkey has begun piling pressure on Syria.

On Tuesday, a Syrian colonel who has emerged as one of the leaders of armed resistance to the 45-year-old president's rule revealed that he had been given sanctuary in Turkey.

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Syria's political opposition groups have met in Istanbul several times in the past few months. On Sunday the newly formed Syrian National Council said the world was obliged to protect the Syrian people, though it rejected any foreign intervention that endangered Syria's sovereignty.

US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice previously said that the US was “outraged” that the Security Council “utterly failed to address an urgent moral challenge and a growing threat to regional peace and security.” The US has repeatedly advocated sanctions as well as an arms embargo on the Assad regime. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague also expressed disappointment at Russia and China's decision to veto.

The resolution received nine votes in favor and four abstentions from Brazil, India, Lebanon and South Africa. Russia and China cast the only votes against the resolution, which was drafted by France with the cooperation of Britain, Germany and Portugal.

For months, Russia, China, Brazil, India and South Africa - the "BRICS" countries - have criticized the United States and European council members for allegedly allowing NATO to overstep its Security Council mandate to protect civilians in Libya. No BRICS country supported the Syria resolution.

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