Turkey Warns Against Sectarian View of Syrian Conflict
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday the violence in Syria should not be viewed as a sectarian or ethnic conflict, and those who did so risked setting the whole region on fire.
In an apparent reference to Shi’ite Iran, Ankara’s main rival in the region and closest ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Erdogan called on Shi’ites to see the conflict in Syria only through “brotherly eyes”.
Majority-Sunni Turkey, which shares a 900-km (550-mile) long border with Syria, fears the internal conflict could develop into sectarian and ethnic fighting that could spill across borders, pitting Shi’ite Muslims against Sunnis.
Referring to clashes this week between Alawite Assad supporters and Sunni Muslims that killed five people and wounded more than 70 in Lebanon, Erdogan said he wanted to send an “important reminder” to the region and the world.
“Viewing the crisis in Syria as a sectarian conflict is absolutely wrong. Whoever views these events through a sectarian window, through an ethnic or ideological window, and whoever adopts an according attitude, is committing a big wrong,” Erdogan said.