Turkey does not condone “Iranian expansionism” in the Middle East although it does recognize its role and its cooperation in resolving problems in Iraq and Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
“Is Syria a theater for Iran’s sectarian expansionism? Yes, it is. Is Iraq a theater also? Yes, it is. I regard this a Persian expansionism rather than a sectarian one. I should specifically say that I do not approve of this Persian expansionism,” Erdoğan said in an interview with Portugal’s RTP channel, according to Anadolu Agency on June 16.
Turkey has long criticized Iran
for pursuing a sectarian-based policy in the Middle East although it continues to work with Tehran on a number of regional issues.
However, Erdoğan made clear that Turkey and Iran, along with Russia, are working together in Syria through the Astana process. He also underlined that the problems in Iraq could not be resolved without Iran
and that excluding Iran
from efforts to deal with the Syrian civil war would not serve anybody’s interest as the Syrian regime works with Iran.
Erdoğan repeated his calls to the United States and Saudi Arabia to join the Astana process, which recently produced a mechanism to monitor the ongoing cease-fire in Syria. President slams US over military base
On the ongoing Raqqa operation that aims to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Erdoğan reiterated Ankara’s long-standing criticisms against the United States, which chose the People’s Protection Units (YPG) as a partner even though Turkey regards the group as a terrorist organization.
“I understand that they do not regard it as a terror organization as they prefer to walk hand in hand in them and as they cooperate with them on Raqqa,” the president said, recalling that Turkey would take any action against the YPG in the event that its security is threatened.
A new military air strip is being built by the U.S. near Kobane in northern Syria which is currently under YPG control, Erdoğan said.
“Planes will land there in the future. [The YPG] will be settled there. Why are you doing all of this? Why you are entering these places?”A plot against Qatar
Touching on the ongoing crisis in the Gulf, Erdoğan described the unfolding situation as a plot against Qatar and said he did not approve of what has happened to the country.
“I sense that there is a very serious plot against Qatar and it’s not true. Qatar is a country with an overwhelmingly Muslim population. Those who implement all of this against Qatar are also Muslim,” he said, adding that the problem should have been addressed with dialogue from the beginning.
“It’s my wish that Saudi Arabia will show its leadership and that this issue will be resolved before the Ramadan Feast.” Military base in Saudi Arabia
Turkey’s military base in Qatar will serve the entire region’s stability and security, Erdoğan said, noting that his government had suggested to Saudi Arabia that it establish a base on Saudi soil as well, but Riyadh has yet to respond to Turkey’s call.
Turkey will augment the number of troops at the military base in Qatar, Erdoğan said.