Protester holds a Turkish flag with a portrait of the founder of modern Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk during an anti-government demonstration in the Turkish capital Ankara, June 1, 2013. (Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images)
Though some 80,000 have been killed in Syria’s civil war raging for more than two years, the government of President Bashar Assad took the trouble on Sunday to warn its citizens against travel to neighboring Turkey on the grounds it might not be safe there.
Already some media are noting the irony, with the Atlantic Wire writing: “Syria, the country mired in a never-ending, devastating war after the government responded to peaceful protests with violence, is now warning its citizens not to travel to Turkey, because of ‘violence of [Prime Minister] Erdogan's government against peaceful protesters.’ This is getting a bit absurd, even for Syria.”
Syria's Foreign Ministry advised citizens – as quoted by Reuters – “against travel to Turkey for the time being for their own safety, because of the deteriorating security situation in several Turkish cities...and the violence of Erdogan's government against peaceful protesters.”
Protests in Turkey entered their fourth day, during which police responded with tear gas to protesters early Monday morning. [See earlier coverage from TheBlaze here.]
With hostilities continuing in next-door Syria, tensions between the two neighbors and former allies have risen. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been critical of Assad’s hardline response to the original protests which began in Syria two years ago, that later turned into a violent civil war.
Now with Erdogan facing his own popular protest in Istanbul, Ankara and elsewhere, it appears Assad’s government is reacting with a measure of glee.
AFP reports: “The demonstrations have been covered in minute detail by Syrian state media, and on Saturday Syria's information minister accused the Turkish government of ‘terrorizing’ its people.”
“Syrian state media has been wall-to-wall with Turkish protest coverage, using the same language to describe the scene there that international media used to discuss the early unrest in Syria,” writes the Atlantic Wire.
Erdogan has been outspoken in his criticism of Assad. Turkey supports the rebels fighting Assad, and has allowed entry to 370,000 Syrian refugees who have poured across the border. Some of Assad’s opponents have used Turkish territory as their base, while weapons bound for rebel fighters have been transferred into Syria from Turkey.