Turkish FM Davutoğlu rejects claims of cooperation with Israel in strike against Syrian base
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu holds a joint press conference with his visiting Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in Istanbul, Nov. 1. AA photo
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has rejected allegations that Turkey gave intelligence to Israel during an attack against a military base near the Syrian coastal city of Latakia early Oct. 31.
“There is an attempt to give the impression that Turkey has coordinated with Israel. We have issues with Syria, an issue based on a principle. But let me say it clearly: The Turkish government has never cooperated with Israel against any Muslim country, and it never will,” Davutoğlu told reporters during a joint press conference in Istanbul Nov. 1 with his visiting Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Several reports said, citing unnamed U.S. officials, that Israel targeted a missile storage center with Russian-made SA-125 missiles, likely to be supplied to Hezbollah, the Shiite Lebanese militant group.
Reports relayed by Israeli media claimed that Turkey was behind the attack in Latakia by disclosing critical information to Israel.
Davutoğlu slammed the reports, describing them as “black propaganda.” “Those [reports] are attempts to cast a shadow on the Syrian people’s rightful struggle and Turkey’s attitude with principles. It is out of the question for us to participate in any common operation,” he said.
Davutoğlu also added that Turkey would stand against such Israeli operation, but emphasized that the information on the strikes was not confirmed yet.
Iran-Turkey ‘not rivals’
During the press conference, Davutoğlu insisted on Turkish-Iranian friendship and partnership. “We have deep and historic relations. Some circles may want to represent us as two rival neighbors. Some may desire it. But much on the contrary, Turkey and Iran are not rivals but friends,” he said.
Davutoğlu also defended his “zero problems with neighbors” policy, saying he held very intense meetings with almost all of Turkey’s neighbors during the last two months. Turkey’s stance regarding Syria and Egypt were based on political principles, relations with Iraq were improving, while efforts were made to overcome the problems in ties with Armenia and Greek Cyprus, Davutoğlu said.
For his part, Zarif criticized the foreign embargos against Iran, warning that these were backlashing unless they had a specific purpose. “Embargos should not be the purpose in itself; they should be a path to a solution. If they don’t reach their goal, they only increase the resistance of the Iranian people,” Zarif said.
In an earlier press conference, both foreign ministers mentioned similar concerns regarding the sectarian nature of the conflict in Syria.