9 November 2012
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has claimed that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan thinks of himself as a Caliph, and has accused Turkey of looking at Syria with imperial ambitions, in an interview given to the Russia Today on Nov. 9.
"Erdogan thinks that if the Muslim Brotherhood takes over in the region - and especially in Syria - he can guarantee his own political future. He also personally thinks he is the new Ottoman sultan and that he can control the region as it was controlled during the Ottoman Empire under a new umbrella," al-Assad said.
"In his heart he thinks he is a Caliph. These are the main reasons for him to shift his policy from zero problems to zero friends," he added.
The Syrian president also denied the possibility of war breaking out between Turkey and Syria. "The conflict or difference is not between the Turkish people and the Syrian people. It is between the governments and the officials; it is between our officials and their officials because of their politics. So, I do not see any war between Syria and Turkey on the horizon."
Al-Assad refused claims that shells hitting Turkey were sent by the Syrian government, saying it is impossible to know the origin of these shells as there are many "terrorists" with mortars on the border.
"The Syrian army does not have any orders to shell Turkish land because we do not have any interest in doing this, and we do not have any enmity with the Turkish people. We consider them brothers, so why would we do it? If it happened by mistake then it needs investigation," he said.