Turkey Closes Syria Embassy; Others Called to Follow Suit

Article Summary
A draft communiqué for the upcoming Friends of Syria conference in Istanbul on April 1 calls for all participants to close their embassies in Damascus and cease contact with the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Turkey is expected to withdraw Ambassador Ohmer Ohnon during the summit after having already announced its embassy’s closure. Duygu Guvenc reports.

The Friends of Syria conference set to take place on April 1 [2012] in Istanbul will result in the issuance of a final communiqué calling on all countries to close their embassies in Damascus. Turkey officially announced the closure of its embassy on March 26, leaving behind only its Aleppo consulate. Turkish ambassador Omer Onhon is set to return to Ankara during the summit.

If Bashar al-Assad fails to accept the proposals put forth by Kofi Annan, the Friends of Syria will terminate any recognition of his regime and all embassies in Damascus will be closed.

Ankara is probing whether the Friends of Syria conference would agree to have ambassador Onhon serve as the contact point for the Friends of Syria in Ankara. As of now, 80 countries and international organizations have been invited to the conference. US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is among those expected in Istanbul. Arab countries will decide their level of participation after the Arab league summit to be held in Baghdad.

The conference communiqué will be finalized after contact with Kofi Annan. The draft of the communiqué has thus far called on all “Friends of Syria” to end all political contact with the Syrian regime. Because the opposition still remains fragmented, the Syrian National Council is not expected to be named its sole representative.

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