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Turkish PM: U.S. elections hampering Syria action

September 5th, 2012
10:11 AM ET

Part 1: Exclusive interview w/ Turkey PM

Part 2: Exclusive interview w/ Turkey PM

See more of Christiane Amanpour's interview with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday at 2100 CET, 2300 CET, 1700 HKT and 2200 HKT on CNN International's "Amanpour" program or here at Amanpour.com

(CNN) – Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the United States is "lacking of initiative" on Syria and suggested that could be because of the upcoming U.S. election.

During a wide-ranging interview in Istanbul with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Erdogan discussed the 18-month crisis in Syria and touched on a number of other topics, including Iran's suspected nuclear program.

"Right now, there are certain things being expected from the United States. The United States had not yet catered to those expectations," the prime minister said when asked whether he was surprised the United States is not offering anything but "nonlethal support" to the opposition.

"Maybe it's because of the elections - maybe it's because of the pre-election situation in the States. Might be the root cause of the lacking of initiative. Nobody has spoken to us about their reasons, and they are not obliged to state anything. We are very thankful and pleased they have stated that they're against this regime," he said through a translator. 

Erdogan has called on the U.N. Security Council to declare a no-fly zone along the Turkey-Syria border.

Baby survives as family dies in Syrian onslaught

France has said that it would be willing to patrol a partial no-fly zone.

“This is exactly what we wanted,” Erdogan says. “Right now in Russia, in China and in Iran, these developments are very clearly visible. And they see the end of Bashar al-Assad quite clearly. I'm speaking very frankly. Politically, he's actually a deceased person.”

So far, about 80,000 Syrian refugees have sought sanctuary in Turkey. Turkey has also hosted groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and is a vital transport route for opposition fighters and weapons into Syria.

When asked what he thought the biggest danger to Turkey was, Erdogan spoke about weapons of mass destruction.

"Well, the biggest danger, not only for Turkey but for the entire region and the world is ... the employment of weapons of mass destruction and chemical ones, of course. If a slightest suggestion of such an attempt should emerge, not only in Turkey, but the attitude of the entire globe is going to change forever," he said.

Syria's foreign ministry has said the country has chemical or biological weapons, but would never use them against its citizens - only against foreign attackers.

The statement drew harsh condemnation from world leaders, including President Barack Obama, who said the Syrian government would risk crossing a "red line" and invite U.S. military intervention if it uses chemical weapons. He faces an election in November.

Switching gears to talk about Iran's suspected nuclear program, Erdogan said he does not believe Israel will launch a full-scale attack.

The United States and other Western powers suspect Iran's announced development of nuclear fuel masks efforts to build a nuclear bomb. Iran insists it is producing enriched uranium only for peaceful purposes, to fuel civilian power plants and medical reactors, and it has refused U.N. Security Council demands to halt that work.

"I do not believe Israel will attack Iran in the fashion that you described in your question. It's a very null probability. Otherwise would have caused an apocalypse in the entire region," Erdogan said. "But I'm sure that I don't want to see anything like that happening in the region because in this day and age, that region needs peace and prosperity and stability."

A journalist's dying moments in Syria

CNN’s Ken Olshansky produced this piece for television.


Filed under:  Christiane's Brief • Latest Episode
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. emrah

    Amanpour, this guy is an idiot and i see you're worse than him. He doesn't speak English and his ideas are supporting terrorism in Syria so does the US. You Americans have no any idea what's going on here and conflict zone. Taking sides in conflicts you know nothing about. He helps those so-called immigrants who steal money from us. You are an idiot Amanpour. Seriously. Who made you god damn journalist. You may ask who made this idiot premier, too :)

    September 5, 2012 at 11:58 am | Reply
    • Hakan_Istanbul

      You, Emrah are probably a Turk! ==> What a pity for you, because you threw up your "dark" inside! By the way, Im a Muslim Turk!
      You and people "who have interesting mind" wont be able to understand the events that going on in this area.
      Muslim Turkish, Kurdish, Arab... people of this area are supporting the Syrian people who against cruel dictator Esad and their regime (As we did for other people -our "brothers & sisters"- of Arab countries).
      Actually I wouldnt reply you but this area is different..!

      September 5, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Reply
      • Musa Alici

        Mr. Hakan,
        What a pity? You are a Muslim Turk and I am a "Alevi" Muslim Turk which over 25 Million Alevi's religious rights has been suppress and discriminated by current government. Further more current government is promoting nothing less than hate, separation, Muslim-Sunni- Sharia-Laws. At the moment what is happening in Syria is a very sad, terrible internal war tuned into, Arabic and Saudis supported, Sunni extreme governments of all of the middle-east region countries, religious extremists are supporting this war and participating in this war. Now small uprising turned into very bloody war due to outsider forces. You need to know what are you talking. THERE IS NO ETHNIC CLEANSING THERE. BUT THER WILL BE IF SUNNI, RELIGIOUS FANATICS TAKES THE POWER. Turkish-Alevi people has been threatened by this psycho extremists "your turn is coming"! What a hell does that mean? How this people can threaten a people hosting them to run and stay safe from a bloody war.?
        You make your own call. If you are a smart enough people? You will support and respect "All PEOLE FROM ALL RELIGIONS". That is the answer and solution of the wars in Middle-East.

        September 5, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
      • emrah

        I accept Syrian Regime is a dictatorship. That's what we need in nowadays to kick out the terrorism. You are a very pity man actually. Not every muslim is my brother. Specially those who spit on your table where you provide food on. Betrayers are not my brothers or sisters. I don't pity on their pathetic, potential terrorist kids

        September 5, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
      • Peter

        Dont throw stones in a glasshouse. The turkish regime is among the worst of all regimes! Before you puke allover Syria and the loved president Dr Bashar al Assad, you should think about the armenian genocide and the genocide of two million christians, armenians, syriacs, assyrians, greeks and kaldeeans, during WWI. Turkey has denied this genocide which more than 50 countries worldwide has already recognized!

        LONG LIVE BASHAR AL ASSAD! DEATH TO erDOGan!

        September 6, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Emrah,
      The one who has no sound and logical basis for an argument and is reliant on petty name calling is the biggest idiot!
      One may also ask, who made you an idiotic commentator ?

      September 6, 2012 at 5:01 am | Reply
      • emrah

        can you please teach me how to comment ? coz i really don't know about the ethics. what i say was right. sorry i couldn't make it fit on your wording comprehensive. Where are you from btw ? You idiot JERK...!

        September 8, 2012 at 4:06 am |
    • welat

      emrah ve seni gibi 3-5 zavalli gitmis orda ingilizce konusarak birsey bildiklerini zannediyorlar, sanki Basbakan ingilizce konussa daha farkli olurdu, belki ingilizce ogrenmissin ama onun disina cikamamissin... birde kendi aranizda ingilizce tartisiyorsunuz, hayret ya!!

      September 6, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Reply
      • Polo

        Does not matter in which language RTE chooses to speak. Even better, when he does it in Turkish. Do not sea a reason, why he should speak non-Turkish,( with respect to the rest of the languages of the world), when he is at Home.

        September 6, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
      • emrah

        ben senin amına koiim . tayyibin köpeği. o amcıüın izinden gideceğinize atatürkçü olun götverenler. inkılapçı ollun. sizin özgürlükten anladığınız anca türban özgürlüğü

        October 11, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Polo

      Personally, not a supporter of AKP, nor RTE, but you are totally wrong. What should Turkey do, when your citizens/Syrians comes to my country gates and pleads to be taken in for safety?! Shall we let them go back and be killed by Emrah's, the puppets of Assad's dinasty!!! Do not make your self too smart and clever by giving your non-sense opinions.

      September 6, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Reply
      • emrah

        they deserved to be death already. they are traitors. they are getting used by the people who uses religion and wants to bring sharia regime like you so they can easily control those people with using their religious weakness and keep them poor. Specially the people semi illiterate like you Polo. You're obviously somebody's dog

        September 13, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • Mike333able

      Your just a low class less educated kurd whos mad cause his brain have an IQ of 21 and needs 22 to open a banana

      September 6, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Reply
      • Bananlo

        What makes you think, that every one is a male.?

        September 6, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • baris

      The man you call idiot is the reason why you are enjoying some good times right now in Turkey, the man who changed the old backward turkey forever and gave hope to its people. What you have done other than condemning him.

      September 6, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Reply
      • Free Turkiye

        Are these good times in Turkey? Turkey has the highest number of journalists in Jail. More than China and Russia. 500 military members are jailed using terror laws. Posting anything on Twitter can get you in trouble. Our freedoms are being taken away. Slowly but surely.

        June 13, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  2. eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    Aqui não é as eleições na Américas o que esta aqui em jogo é a sociadade civil na Siria que tem abandonar as suas casas tudo por causa de alguns estados membros das Nações Unidas e das as suas politicas sujas hoje há uma nação destruida o povo da Siria tem todo o direito a ter uma democracia como os cidadãos Europeus basta olharmos para a história para ver que foi esta classe quem construiu as democracias onde elas existem e funcionam

    September 5, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Reply
  3. kafantaris2

    Even if peace is still plausible, it would mean loss of power for Assad and his henchmen - or their answering for war crimes, as they had reached the point of no return to civilized governance long ago. Their only hope now is to fight the rebellion and carve out a chunk of Syria for their refuge.
    The Iranian regime is absolutely determined to help Assad do this - which is precisely why the path through Syria has become our gateway to Iran.
    And let us not fool ourselves: That regime will have to be confronted militarily, sooner or later. The time to do so is now when we have other nations by our side going into Syria.
    As for Russia and China, these two are reasonable opponents and will do what is best for them - and the rabid Iranian regime is not much better for them as it is for the rest of us. And like us, Russia and China have given up all hope of taming it.
    It is foreseeable then that Russia and China will again watch as we shed our blood and spend our treasure to rid the world of yet another troublesome regime.
    The more pressing question is whether we have any stomach left for another war. Assad and the Iranian regime are betting that we don't.
    But then so did Saddam and Gaddafi.

    September 5, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Reply
    • Musa Alici

      Kafantaris,
      You can look at an art and see the what is portrayed by him/her. Assad and his henchmen? You are seeing an art work of single-sided view. View that created just one sided. Yes, people are dying, kids are dying, innocent people are dying. And, we all want PEACE. When people are fighting (specially most of the fighters Sunni-Muslim extremist terrorists from other countries.
      I am not supporting Assad but I am not buying one sided stories. I am getting news from HATAY-TURKEY. Turkish Alevi Muslims are being threatened by this people. Same idiotic, extremist killers "BURNED ALIVE" modern-liberal voice of Turkey and Alevi people. They boarded a hotel, poured a gas and "BURN THEM ALIVE". Their crime/punishment was due to their liberal views and being a "Alevi". THE SUNNI EXTREMIST-TERRORISTS ARE FUELING THIS WAR AND SCREAMING "Allahu Akbar". I think it explain itself. Killing people for name of GOD is more hypocritical than defend your existence.
      Peace

      September 5, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Reply
  4. elmar schäfer

    just a quick comment. not about syria. but even more important about the american elections. where is the progress "michelle" obama mentioned in her speech? taking place in syria or even in the united states

    September 5, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Reply
  5. JEM

    Why does US have to take the lead? We are stretched with our military (we are still fighting the longest war in our history) and our budget. I would like the US do something but not on our own. Why doesn't Turkey take the lead on this?

    September 5, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Reply
  6. Zee

    Next year shall be the 100th year anniversary of world war I. We all recall our history lessons and how the collapse of the Ottoman Empire came into realization and the countries were created by pen on maps based on countries interests, namely British, French. 100 years later, it sure looks like the Middle East is again under process of re/making. One must not just focus on Syria. But see the sequence of events, Economical depression, so called Arap Spring, increase in oil prices, Israel and Iran tensions, US technical leave from Iraq, political developments in Turkey reducing the power of military, opening borders with Syria and now the current mess and the increasing Kurdish terrorist treaths. ... This is a very big puzzle... JEM has asked rightly why US should take the lead... the answer is very simple... its because it is the master in disguise...

    September 5, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Reply
  7. yuuksel

    RTE > Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became the new Caliph of Muslims. Was Century. london paris rome vienna and all east and west, Now wait for us in hope.

    September 5, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Reply
    • Danny

      You are quite mad if you're waiting for the Chalif-hood to come back, you do realize that, don't you?

      September 17, 2012 at 9:25 am | Reply
  8. Tanvr Afgan

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan Is a great guy who talks a lot of sense! Ever lived in Egypt, Libya, Jordan, SA. If you did you would understand what he is saying.

    September 6, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Reply
  9. Chukwuemeka

    Amanpour, last year the United States got involved in Libya and before you knew it France and Britain asked them to step aside that they would handle it better. Now, the US is watching and expecting them to step into Syria, but all of Europe is scared of Russia and China. So if the US fails to give leadership then no one would?

    September 6, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Reply
  10. ahmet

    I am a Turkish citizen, and I'm ashamed of my prime-minister not speaking English, especially knowing the fact that he has served as prime-minister for more than 10 years. Erdogan isn't ashamed of himself, but I'm ashamed of him. There are many things that I can criticize, but at least learn English, come on!!!

    September 6, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Reply
    • Polo

      Ahmed is ashamed that RTE does not speak English is like saying Ahmed is ahamed from his mother and father and feels sorry that hey raised him with their lost gurush and sent him all the way to the americas. Ahmed is proud with no grounds, but with stable roots!

      September 6, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Reply
    • welat

      Ahmet, bende senin bu kadar dar dusunmenden utaniyorum, onemli olan bir liderin nasil liderlik yaptigi kac dil konustugu degil, o zaman butun dil bilenler basbakan olurdu, cogu liderler boyle konusmayi tercih ederler cunku onlarin agzindan cikan her kelime onemli, ve yanlis anlasilma olabilir eger baska bir dilde konusurlarsa, o yuzden biraz dusun oyle yorum yaz, haa siyasetini begenmezsin o ayri...

      September 8, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Reply
  11. Duuuude

    Hey Turkey! Mind your own business! Countries like Turkey are always looking for an opportunity to stomp their neighbor down once they become weak. I hate Turkey and Turks!

    September 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Reply
    • Polo

      What a statement by a brainless human being! You must be an armenian, that I hide from it.

      September 6, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Reply
    • Mike333able

      you know that also greeks,armenians and russians attacked them ?

      September 6, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Reply
      • Polo

        And left, the way the came in. Otherwise, hair shal have grown in MKA"s palms.

        September 6, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  12. tremsrea

    Well, I'm living in Turkey and I was born here.

    One thing is obvious, Prime Minister Erdogan is speaking differently in Turkish Media. Erdogan says that I hate insulting. But in Turkish Media, He says that an atheist is a terrorist. And that's not all. He is insulting every people except Sunni Muslims.

    From outside, Turkey is a beautiful country but from inside it's really bad.

    September 8, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Reply
  13. murozel

    Let's give an example about the level of tolerance or general approach to criticism here: A minister of Mr. Erdoğan's government recently dared declare all the parents who are critical of the new education starting age of 5 "linked to PKK terrorists". That's just an example from here, so I kindly smiled while watching this interview. (This has nothing to do with Christiane. Her program is among my favourites.)

    September 9, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Reply
  14. Dreamlovver

    All people of the World's have to know that there are many dirty dones happening around the Middle East and Turkish PM iş one of the regulator of the Grand Middle East Project. And also more of us knows, the Presidents of U.S uses the leaders which are typed as Erdogan.
    Now, the Big Boss Obama waiting the Syrian War and he need to Erdogan. When the new mission will complete, Turkish imitation leader Erdogan will fired of his job.! And stupid Justice and Development Party's supporters will look for a new hero for their idiotic ideology!
    I'm a communication activist in Turkey, best wishes to all people...

    June 13, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Reply
  15. Free Turkiye

    It has been a habit of this guy to tell what press want to hear. Hypocrisy at its best. Also double standard on everything. When its his daughters freedom, we should talk about freedom, when its about my freedom of speech, its called insults. I can't post my name, because, I fear charges. So you tell me what kind of democracy and freedom of speech he is talking about.

    June 13, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Reply

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