Killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Qasem Soleimani through a U.S. strike in Iraq could be the “beginning of new and bigger problems” in the Middle East, said Turkish opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on January 3. During a press conference in Ankara, Kılıçdaroğlu said that Turkey, as a neighbour of both Iraq and Iran could get affected from the situation. Pointing out that the region has turned into a stage of proximity wars in the last ten tears, the opposition leader called on President Tayyip Erdoğan to follow a moderate policy regarding the Middle East and keep Turkey away from the ring of fire.
“Iran is an important and influential country of the region” Kılıçdaroğlu said; “Soleimani has been a figure in fight against ISIS. I hope the events will not drag the region toward a cliff. We need minds, hearts and sympathy to solve the problems, not guns. I wish both the U.S. and Iran can act in common sense.” Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone attack on January 3 (January 2 American time) and Pentagon holding him responsible of attacks on coalition targets in Iraq, including the raid on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on the last day of 2019.
Call on UN for Libya
Criticising President Erdoğan for pressing the Parliament for a permission to send Turkish troops to Libya, CHP leader said that the right thing to do is to call on the United Nations to form a Peacekeeping Force in Libya to calm down the situation in the divided country. “Both the UN and Turkey recognizes the legal [Fayez Al-Sarraj] government. If such a UN force could be established we would not object Turkish troops to take part in it among other countries” he said. Kılıçdaroğlu also said he suspected that Erdoğan might have signed the security cooperation agreement with Sarraj in return of Sarraj signing the maritime agreement. Turkish Parliament has enabled the Erdoğan government on January 2 to send troops to Libya in help of the UN-recognized Sarraj government by 325 votes despite 184 opposition votes.
“There are legal and legitimate rights of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot governments” Kılıçdaroğlu said; “The best way to protect and get your rights is to sit and talk. I’m asking again: why don’t we better the relations with Egypt already?” He also said that he did not believe that the recent EastMed pipeline agreement between Egyptian, Israeli, Greek and Greek Cypriot governments to carry gas from East Mediterranean to Europe will work. “Its cost is too high, not feasible” the CHP leader said; “The cheapest and most suitable way to carry the gas to Europe is via Turkey. That’s why we have to focus on diplomacy.”