Turkey said it could use Iraq as an alternative trade route, cutting out Syria entirely as Damascus faces broad economic sanctions over its deadly crackdown on its 8-month-old uprising.
Syria has been a main transit route for Middle East trade, which Damascus hopes will help cushion the effects of tough new sanctions from the Arab League and Turkey, according to Associated Press reports.
The Arab sanctions were expected to bite far more than existing sanctions from the U.S. and the European Union, which had far more limited trade with Damascus.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said the Arab sanctions amounted to "economic warfare" and warned Damascus could use its strategic location to inflict economic damage of its own.
Turkey's transport minister said there are alternatives to Syria, although he gave no specifics about when such a move might be taken.
"We are planning to conduct transit transport through Iraq, by opening new (border) gates, if the situation with Syria worsens," Binali Yildirim told the state-run Anadolu Agency on Tuesday. He said Turkey would increase the number of border crossings with Iraq in such an event.
(Source: Associated Press, Reuters)
(Picture: Iraq-Turkey Border)