Turkish President Erdoğan says can't tolerate Iran bid to dominate Middle East
ISTANBUL - Reuters
AA PhotoTurkish President Tayyip Erdogan accused Iran on Thursday of trying to dominate the Middle East and said its efforts have begun annoying Ankara, as well as Saudi Arabia and Gulf Arab countries.
Turkey earlier said it supports the Saudi-led military operation against Houthi rebels in Yemen and called on the militia group and its "foreign supporters" to abandon acts which threaten peace and security in the region.
"Iran is trying to dominate the region," said Erdoğan, who is due to visit Tehran in early April. "Could this be allowed? This has begun annoying us, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries. This is really not tolerable and Iran has to see this," he added in a press conference.
Warplanes from Saudi Arabia and Arab allies struck at Houthi forces in Yemen, who have taken over much of the country in their campaign to oust President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
The Saudi-led intervention marked a major escalation of the Yemen crisis, in which Shi'ite Muslim Iran supports the Shi'ite Houthis, and Sunni Muslim monarchies in the Gulf back Hadi and his fellow Sunni loyalists in Yemen's south.
Erdoğan said the conflict has evolved into a sectarian one and urged Iran to withdraw. "Iran has to change its view. It has to withdraw any forces, whatever it has in Yemen, as well as Syria and Iraq and respect their territorial integrity."
Erdoğan's plans to visit Iran had not changed, his spokesman, Ibrahim Kalın, told journalists earlier on Thursday without giving a specific date.