Syrian President Bashar Assad accused Israel and Turkey of setting a course to mend relations last month in order to team up and overthrow the Baathist regime in Syria.
Speaking in an interview broadcast Friday on Turkish television, Assad charged his neighbors with stoking the revolt against his rule, and warned they would eventually pay a heavy price. The embattled despot said that the sudden reconciliation between Ankara and Jerusalem came as part of a conspiracy to topple his regime.
Assad noted that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan were both in power during the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, in which nine Turkish citizens aboard a ship bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip were killed by IDF troops.
“Why did [Netanyahu] not apologize during these past years? What has changed?” the president asked journalists from Ulusal Kanal.
“Erdogan is the same, Netanyahu is the same. What has changed is the situation in Syria. This confirms very clearly and precisely that there is a Turkish-Israeli agreement over the situation in Syria. This also confirms that Erdogan is now in alliance with Israel in order to aggravate the situation in Syria,” Assad charged.
Assad told the reporters that Erdogan failed to garner Turkish public support against Syria in the past two years of the Syrian civil war, and failed to take down the Syrian government.
“Syria was steadfast despite the ferocious battles, [Erdogan] has no ally to help him except Israel, and Israel is our obvious enemy, which occupies our land,” the dictator from Damascus said.
Assad also warned that the fall of his regime or the breakup of Syria will unleash a “domino effect” that will fuel Middle East instability for years to come, in his sharpest warning yet about the potential fallout of his country’s civil war on neighboring states.
“We are surrounded by countries that help terrorists and allow them to enter Syria,” he said.
“Everybody knows that if the disturbances in Syria reach the point of the country’s breakup, or terrorist forces control Syria … then this will immediately spill over into neighboring countries and there will be a domino effect that will reach countries across the Middle East,” he said.
The Syrian regime is under growing pressure from an increasingly effective rebel force that has managed to pry away much of northern Syria and is making significant headway in the south, capturing military bases and territory that could offer rebels a staging ground to attack the capital, Damascus, the seat of Assad’s power.
“When the prime minister (Erdogan), or the government or officials get involved in shedding Syrian people’s blood, there is no place for bridges between me and them or the Syrian people that don’t respect them,” Assad said.
The Syrian revolt started with largely peaceful protests in March 2011 but has morphed into a civil war with increasingly sectarian overtones. Sunni Muslims dominate rebel ranks, while the Assad regime is composed mostly of Alawites, an offshoot Shiite group to which the president and his family belong.