Erdoğan decries interference in Saudi affairs as region burns
by Nurbanu Kızıl
ISTANBULJan 06, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Nurbanu Kızıl
Jan 06, 2016 12:00 am
As the rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran continues, President Erdoğan called the Saudi Arabia's decision to carry out executions an internal matter and asked the international community: ‘Where were you when the decision to execute more than 1,000 people was made in Egypt?'
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, speaking on Wednesday at the 18th gathering of village headmen at the Presidential Complex, said Saudi Arabia's decision to execute 47 people convicted of terrorism as a matter of internal affairs and warned against its exploitation for sectarian reasons. Amid escalating tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran over the execution of a 56-year-old prominent Shiite cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, President Erdoğan voiced his opinion on the issue. "The decision made in Saudi Arabia is an internal judiciary matter, in my opinion. This decision had already been made and Saudi Arabia took this step based on that decision. Whether I approve of it or not is a different matter," Erdoğan said, adding that the world has kept silent on the executions of thousands of other people. Erdoğan stressed that there were 47 executions carried out by Saudi Arabia, 43 of whom were Sunnis. Underscoring that 400,000 have been killed in Syria, Erdoğan levied criticism at those who turned a blind eye to the mayhem to further their sectarian or national objectives.
"The same people who keep silent during mass killings are now trying to stir up the world over the execution of one person. 400,000 people have been killed, you prove all kinds of aid is being sent there. To whom? To the murderer, Assad. You can never justify yourselves," Erdoğan said.
Touching on the recent rift within the Islamic world over sectarian issues, Erdoğan pointed to the external powers that try to turn Muslims against each other. "What is the matter? The matter is: 'Let there be a clash of sectarianism in the Islamic world and let the Islamic world be shattered by itself.' We know that the most significant reason for the images coming out of Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon is the instigation of sectarianism," Erdoğan contended. The president also condemned the recent attack on the Saudi embassy in Iran. "Setting the Saudi embassy on fire is by no means an acceptable approach in terms of international relations," he said.
Erdoğan had previously slammed Iran as well, accusing it of having sectarian policies. He said if Iran had not sided with Assad in obedience to its sectarian-driven policies, war-torn Syria may not be in its current situation where thousands of Iranian troops and several Shiite militia groups from Lebanon and Iraq are fighting alongside the regime.
NOT KURDISH ISSUE, TERROR ISSUE
President Erdoğan also said that the PKK terrorist organization harms everyone, including the Kurds. He noted that Turkey will continue its anti-terror operations in order to ensure permanent security and stability in the country for all citizens, and will continue to work towards reaching its 2023 goals. "Over 3,100 terrorists have been killed in the operations," he added.
"There is no Kurdish issue in Turkey, there is a terror issue," Erdoğan said and reassured that the country will overcome the terrorist threat.
He added that progress in Turkey means equal gains for all citizens, regardless of their background, while he criticized the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) for voicing support for the terrorists.
"Political immunity cannot be used as a means to protect the terrorist organization," Erdoğan said, adding that siding with those who exploit ethnicity and breed hatred among the members of society is not politics, but simply treason.
HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ have been recently been slammed for supportive remarks they made regarding the PKK's policy of digging ditches in urban areas. There is currently an ongoing controversy about whether the immunity of both politicians should be lifted.
NOBODY CAN STAND IN THE WAY OF PEOPLE'S REQUESTS
As Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu finished the second leg of a tour in which he spoke with opposition party leaders aiming to reach a consensus on the drafting of a new constitution, President Erdoğan also commented on the process, stressing that nobody can stand in the way of the people's requests and emphasizing that he sees the will of the people reflected in public surveys as well as the places he visits.
Erdoğan also stressed the need for Turkey to adopt an attitude conducive with the drafting of a new constitution. "We should get rid of the embarrassment of being a country that is run under coup constitutions," Erdoğan asserted, adding that the preconditions put forth by opposition parties make it difficult to draft a constitution that will embrace the transformation Turkey is going through. "Turkey needs to be refreshed and start over in various areas and in relation to the renewal of its system," Erdoğan added.
Underscoring that a country that is run under a presidential system can advance prolifically and surpass other countries in the respective region, Erdoğan pointed to the urgent need for Turkey to define its own path towards a presidential system according to its own needs.