Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad

Tensions are mounting between Syria and Turkey, upping the stakes that could force Bashar al-Assad's departure. .

Warning Assad will pay for leading a brutal crackdown on protesters, Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish Prime Minister told journalists: "The Syrian regime is going to pay very dearly for what it has done."

It is not the first time Turkey officials have vowed Syria will pay a heavy price for ignoring protesters demands, shooting down its own people and warnings from the international community.

The country has now even threatened to cut off electrical supplies following an attack on its embassy in Damascus by a pro-Assad mob.

Recent hints also suggest Ankara is seriously considering creating a "buffer zone" in Syria so it can establish a space where it can protect refugees fleeing the crisis without having to admit them on Turkish territory.

Such a move would however necessitate the deployment of Turkish troops, but it is unlikely the country would throw itself in such a risky enterprise on its own.

While Assad and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayvip Erdogan once enjoyed a relatively good relationship, their language has become harsher in recent weeks.

Insisting the crisis signals the end of the Assad regime, Erdogan said : "No one any longer expects [Assad's regime] to meet the expectations of the people and of the international community. Our wish is that the Assad regime, which is now on a knife edge, does not enter this road of no return, which leads to the edge of the abyss."

While the diplomatic war of words continue to escalate, Turkey has however quietly continued to nurture its trade ties to Syria, and Damascus is far from being dependent on Ankara for its electricity.

But as Assad continues to terrorise his own people, the web of external powers confronting him is also becoming more complex.

With the Arab League, the European Union, the U.S. and Turkey competing to find a solution to the crisis, rivalries are also set to mount.

Last week the Arab League, led by Saudi Arabia, decided to suspend Syria from the organisation. For the kingdom, getting rid of Assad would be doubly beneficial as it would also weaken the base of support of its other rival in the region, Iran.

Western states, on the other hand, have called for Assad to step down before the Arab League but officials have ruled out a foreign intervention, similar to that of Libya. NATO and the coalition countries have been criticised for supporting the armed insurgency against Gaddafi and, despite hailing the operation as a success, human rights abuses and a continuation of the violence has raised serious doubts about the Libyan mission.

However, there have been reports that at least one Arab state had already asked the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, to lead the action against Syria, with an Arab diplomat saying: "The West needs to lead and the international community needs to talk about what to do when the dam bursts in Syria."

But protesters and members of the Syrian opposition have warned against a foreign intervention.

Russia and China are also set to hamper efforts by West to lead an 'anti-Assad' action.

Also, while the Arab League pushes for Assad's departure it still remains suspicious of Turkey's growing influence in the region that now stretches to North Africa where the Tunisian moderate Islamic party, Enhada, is partly modelled on the Turkish AKP party.

Embattled and isolated, Assad still controls the military and security apparatus of Syria, with the backing of important sections of Syrian society. But for how much longer can he surivie the vice like pressure of internal revolt and international pressure?