Syria’s Bashar al Assad is losing his allies and becoming even more isolated after months of violent crackdowns on pro-reform protesters.
Unexpectedly, a warning from Syria’s staunchest ally came Sunday when Iran urged President Bashar al-Assad to heed the “legitimate demands” of civilians protesting against his 40-year rule. Tehran had only just recently resisted criticism of their long-time allies in Damascus, with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, saying on June 30 he sees the uprising in Syria as a U.S. ploy: “In Syria, the hand of America and Israel is evident. ”
But in a noticeable shift, Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi said the Middle East could be plunged into chaos if President Assad continued to ignore calls for reform.
Similarly, after trying for months to influence Assad away from committing further atrocities to suppress the protests, Syria’s other ally in Turkey has withdrawn support. Turkish president, Abdullah Gul said Sunday he had “lost confidence” in Assad and that he should fear the use of force if he does not comply.
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain withdrew their support in protest at the government’s ruthless crackdown on protesters, while yesterday the Arab League dispatched its leader to Damascus in a bid to end the crisis. Added to the tough sanctions Western powers placed on Syria earlier this month, this severing of allies and ties across the board has place the Assad regime in even greater isolation.