Turkey said it will impose sanctions against its troubled neighbor Syria, despite the collapse of a sanction-resolution at the United Nations Security Council.
Russia and China vetoed proposed sanctions against Syria, prompting outrage in Europe and the United States. The sanctions were crafted by France, Britain, Germany and Portugal. U.S. ambassador Susan Rice pointedly criticized China and Russia by claiming that countries opposed to the sanctions were seeking to sell arms to Damascus.
However, the Russian envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, claimed Moscow vetoed sanctions because many Syrians do not endorse the movement against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and that such a measure would cause a civil war to erupt.
The Chinese foreign ministry said sanctions would not ease the crisis in Syria.
Four UN members, Lebanon, South Africa, Brazil and India, abstained from voting on the sanctions.
Nonetheless, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep warned in a speech while visiting South Africa that the failure of the UN will not prevent Ankara and perhaps some other European states from moving against Syria.
The veto of [the draft] will not prevent our sanctions, just as it does not prevent the steps of some or all EU countries, Erdogan said, according to Anadolu Ajansi, the Turkish state news agency.
Turkey’s military coincidentally plans to conduct a routine exercise near the Syrian border through next week.
We will now inevitably apply our sanction package … We have a 910-kilometer long border. Moreover, we have cross-border family ties, which increase our responsibility.”
However, Erdogan provided no details of what his sanctions would consist of. He also said he will visit refugee camps in his country that are filled with about 7500 Syrians who fled across the border.
Meanwhile, Assad’s regime has brutally cracked down on protesters for almost seven months. The UN estimates that almost 3,000 people have been killed, unknown thousands more have been detained by state security.
Complicating the picture for Turkey is the fact that Syria is a leading trade partner and that historically the leaders of these two nations have had friendly relations. The bond between Erdogan and Assad was ruptured when the Syrian leader refused to end the crackdown against protesters, angering Turkey.