Erdogan warns Iran against helping Assad

Turkish leader questions why UN sanctions targeted Islamic Republic instead of Israel, chastises Tehran for supporting Syria crackdown.

By OREN KESSLER
September 27, 2011 23:21
3 minute read.
Turkish PM Erdogan

Edrogan 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany)

 
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Turkey’s prime minister issued a stern warning Tuesday to Iran, chastising Tehran for supporting Syria’s crackdown on protesters and singling out the Islamic Republic as the only country that could keep Syria’s Bashar Assad in power.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Turkish reporters the key to the Syrian situation lies with Iran, and said his government would no longer allow weapons transfers to Damascus through its territory, Israel Radio reported.

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On Sunday, Erdogan said Turkey and Iran would work together against their common enemy of Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq.

The Kurdish separatist group PKK has a large base in the mountains on the Iran-Iraq border, and Erdogan hinted a joint Turkish- Iranian military action could target the group’s headquarters. The PKK has also spawned a splinter group, the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan, or PEJAK, that operates among Iran’s own Kurdish citizens.

In an interview Monday with Time magazine, Erdogan continued his verbal assault against both Syria and Israel.

On Turkey’s neighbor and former ally Syria, he said, “It is impossible to preserve my friendship with people who are allegedly leaders, when they are attacking their own people, shooting at them, using tanks and other forms of heavy weaponry. Even when we had warm contacts with some of Syria’s leading figures, we could see that they had no intention of replicating our democracy model. We’ve always voiced our recommendations; they never actually listened to them.”

Turning to Israel, Erdogan reiterated his demand for an apology for its May naval raid off of Gaza that killed nine people: “The Israeli prime minister still alleges that the flotillas were actually loaded with weapons. Had they possessed the weapons that were alleged, why didn’t they fire back? There are reports issued by both the UN Security Council and UN agencies in Geneva about this incident and you never see the slightest trace that the flotillas were carrying guns. The Israeli government is not being honest at all.”

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The Turkish premier’s confrontational line against Israel has won him legions of admirers across the Arab world, and Monday’s remarks were little different.

“Israel first seems to have accepted going back to the borders of 1967, but somehow seemed to have got distanced from this ideal. They need to get closer back to it. Palestine is in a form of a maze right now,” he said.

The Palestinians, he said, “are there to exist. They are not there to be condemned to struggle in an open-air penitentiary. Israel’s cruelty in that regard cannot be continued any longer. And, of course, the legitimate demands for Palestine to be a recognized state should be catered to, and considered both in the UN Security Council and General Assembly. Those who approach these demands negatively will never be able to settle their accounts with history.”

Erdogan also criticized the Quartet’s role in the conflict, saying, “if the Quartet was so willing to resolve this issue, they would have imposed certain issues on Israel today. Until today, the UN Security Council has issued more than 89 resolutions on prospective sanctions related to Israel, but they’ve never been executed. And furthermore, there were about 200 resolutions issued by the General Assembly and neither have those been complied with.

“One might wonder why no sanctions have been imposed on Israel. When it’s Iran in question, you impose sanctions. Similarly with Sudan,” he said. “What happens with Israel then? Had these sanctions been imposed in this day and age, the Palestine-Israel conflict would have been resolved a long time ago.”

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