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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, waves to the crowd upon his arrival at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul early Friday, June 7, 2013. Mr. Erdogan took a combative stance on his closely watched return to the country, telling supporters who thronged to greet him that the protests that have swept the country must come to an end.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, waves to the crowd upon his arrival at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul early Friday, June 7, 2013. Mr. Erdogan took a combative stance on his closely watched return to the country, telling supporters who thronged to greet him that the protests that have swept the country must come to an end.
(Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press)

PATRICK MARTIN

Embarrassed Erdogan loses the upper hand on Syria

When Turkish security forces moved in before dawn last Friday to crush a small environmental protest in downtown Istanbul, no one was happier than a man sitting 1,100 km away in Damascus.

For more than two years, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been taking a beating in Western public opinion. He was the monster who unleashed his forces on Syrian demonstrators who sought to bring democracy to Syria. From those early clashes a full-fledged civil war broke out that has left about 80,000 Syrians dead.