In a rather strong statement, Turkish Foreign Ministry said on January 3 that the U.S. air operation which reportedly killed Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani in Iraq could increase the insecurity and instability in the Middle East. “We are deeply concerned about the rising tension between the USA and Iran” the written statement said; “We especially strongly emphasise that turning Iraq a clash zone will harm the peace and stability both in Iraq and in our region.”
The statement also said that “Turkey has always been against foreign interventions, assassinations and sectarian clashes in the region”. The Turkish Foreign Ministry Statement has called on “parties”, that is the U.S. and Iran to act with common sense and moderation, refrain from unilateral steps and give priority to diplomacy.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan and the U.S. President Donald Trump had a telephone conversation on January 2, following the voting in Turkish Parliament which enabled the government to send troops to Libya and reportedly talked about Libya, Syria and Iraq. The U.S. operation against Soleimani, the head of the Al-Quds Force the foreign operations branch of the Iran Revolutionary Guards had not taken place at that time. Soleimani was held responsible by Pentagon for terrorist actions against American targets in Iraq and the name behind the December 31 raid on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
Opposition calls on Erdoğan for calm
In earlier hours, Turkish main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said that the Soleimani incident might cause new and bigger problems in the Middle East and called on Erdoğan to follow a “moderate” regional policy and keep Turkey away from that “fire”. “Iran is an important and influential country of the region”, Kılıçdaroğlu said in his press conference in Ankara; “Soleimani has been a figure in the fight against ISIS. I hope the events will not drag the region toward a cliff. I wish bot the U.S. and Iran can act in common sense.”
Kılıçdaroğlu also repeated his call on Erdoğan not to send Turkish troops to Libya, despite the voting in the Parliament and instead urge the United Nations to establish a Peacekeeping Force in Libya in support of the legitimate (Fayes Al-Sarraj) government there. “In that case, we would have no objection to sending Turkish soldiers to that UN Force”, he said