Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been in power since 2003
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad lashed out at Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seen here in April 2012, accusing him of behaving like an Ottoman sultan and thinking he is a "caliph", in an interview with Russian television. © Adem Altan - AFP/File
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been in power since 2003
AFP
Last updated: November 9, 2012

Erdogan thinks he's a "caliph", says Syria's Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad lashed out at Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accusing him of behaving like an Ottoman sultan and thinking he is a "caliph", in an interview with Russian television broadcast Friday.

Ties between the one-time allies Syria and Turkey have soured dramatically over the conflict between Assad's regime and rebels openly supported by Ankara that activists say has now claimed 37,000 lives.

"He (Erdogan) personally thinks that he is the new sultan of the Ottoman (empire) and he can control the region as it was during the Ottoman empire, under a new umbrella," Assad told state-run Russia Today television.

"In his heart he thinks he is a caliph," said Assad, referring to the title used by leaders of the Islamic world from the early Arab Islamic dynasties up to the Ottoman empire.

Assad said that the mentality of Erdogan -- who leads the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) -- was to blame for collapse of relations between the Damascus regime and Ankara.

Erdogan has shifted his policy on Syria from "zero problems to zero friends," said Assad, who noted that he last spoke with Erdogan in May 2011.

Assad accused Erdogan of wanting the Muslim Brotherhood to take over the Middle East region so that "he (Erdogan) can guarantee his political future".

Tensions between Ankara and Damascus flared particularly after a Turkish fighter jet was brought down by Syrian fire in June, killing two pilots, and further deteriorated last month when Syrian cross-border shelling killed five Turkish civilians.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Stay Connected
twitter icon Twitter 13,558 linkedin icon LinkedIn 463
facebook icon Facebook 87,173 google+ icon Google+ 272