ANKARA - Middle East powerhouse Turkey on Wednesday warned against a sectarian Cold War in the region and said rising Sunni-Shi'ite tensions would be "suicide" for the whole region.
"Let me openly say that there are some willing to start a regional Cold War," Foreign Minster Ahmet Davutoglu told state-run Anatolian news agency before heading to Shi'ite Iran.
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"We are determined to prevent a regional Cold War. Sectarian regional tensions would be suicide for the whole region," Davutoglu said, adding such effects would last for decades.
"Turkey is against all polarizations, in the political sense of Iran-Arab tension or in the sense of forming an apparent axis. This will be one of the crucial messages that I will take to Tehran."
Majority Sunni Turkey, which borders Iran, Iraq and Syria, has attempted
to play a moderating role as rivals Shi'ite Iran and Sunni powerhouse
Saudi Arabia jockey for influence in a region undergoing sweeping
changes brought on by "Arab Spring" popular uprisings .
Davutoglu is expected to hold talks in Tehran later on Wednesday on
Iran's nuclear program and developments in neighboring Iraq and
The United States and the European Union stepped up pressure on Iran on
Wednesday with European diplomats agreeing in principle to ban Iranian
oil imports and Washington sending its Treasury Secretary to Asia to
discuss new sanctions.
Iran has threatened to take action
if the US Navy moves an aircraft carrier into the Gulf, Tehran's most
aggressive statement yet after weeks of sabre-rattling as new US and EU financial sanctions take a toll on its economy.
"Turkey is fiercely against new regional Shi'ite-Sunni tensions, or an
anti-Iran or similar tensions arising like in the Gulf," Davutoglu said.
He singled out the case of neighboring Iraq, which is splitting up into
sectarian and ethnic fiefdoms, with Kurds consolidating their autonomy
in the north, Shi'ites dominant across the south and entrenched in
Baghdad, and Sunnis exploring whether to set up their own autonomous
region in the center and west.
"Our Iraq policy foresees close contact with all sides. No one should
make a mistake here. No one should act with a conviction that one
ideology, one sect, one ethnicity could dominate in any country as it
was the case in the past. The societies in the region want a new