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Ankara Criticizes Tehran’s Sectarianism | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu addresses the media in Ankara, Turkey, July 29, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Ankara – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the Iran strategy and role played in the region has a destabilizing nature with an end goal of making both Iraq and Syria two Shi’ite states.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Cavusoglu said that Tehran must cease its continued disruption to regional security and stability.

The Turkish foreign minister said that U.N.-led peace talks on Syria in Geneva were the only place to negotiate a political solution and transition.

“Astana has never been an alternative to Geneva,” Cavusoglu told delegates at a security conference in Munich, referring to talks held between Turkey, Russia, Iran and Syrian factions in the Kazakh capital.

“It’s a good confidence building measure and to maintain a ceasefire. It’s a good step forward.

“But now we need to resume Geneva talks which is the main basis for the political solution and transition,” he said.

Talks in Geneva are set to resume on Feb. 23.

FM Cavusoglu criticized Iran’s conduct, branding it as sectarian and aimed at undermining Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

“Turkey firmly opposes any division, whether religious or sectarian,” he added.

The Iranian role in the region is destabilizing, especially that Tehran is seeking to spread Shi’ism in Syria and Iraq, reported Turkey-based news agency Anadolu.

More so, in his address to the Munich Security Conference, Cavusoglu called on the U.S. and other allies to end their support for the terrorist PKK’s Syrian offshoot, PYD, and instead support the moderate opposition forces in a stronger way.

“Two days ago [U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] Gen. [Joseph] Dunford was in Ankara to discuss all these technical issues. Yes, we proposed to the U.S. to put their Special Forces on the ground to support the local moderate forces,” he said.

Cavusoglu underlined that the right group to support in the fight against ISIS should be the Syrian moderate opposition forces instead of the PYD/YPG, which are affiliated with the terrorist group PKK seeking an independent state.

“Cooperating with a terrorist organization in our fight against another terrorist organization is very dangerous,” he said.

“That is the mistake the previous administration in the U.S. made. They gave weapons to YPG, then, PKK got some of the weapons. And PKK used those weapons in their terrorist attacks in Turkey,” he said.

Cavusoglu highlighted the success of the Syrian moderate opposition forces in the Turkey-led Operation Euphrates Shield in which Free Syrian Army fighters liberated significant areas along the Turkish border from ISIS, including large parts of Al-Bab in Syria’s Aleppo province.

“We are about to take back al-Bab. After it, we can take back Raqqah together,” he said, referring to the stronghold of the terrorist group ISIS in northern Syria.

The Turkey-led Operation Euphrates Shield began in late August 2016 to improve security, support coalition forces, and eliminate the terror threat along the Turkish border using Free Syrian Army fighters backed by Turkish artillery and jets.