January 23, 2017

Turkey’s president described his country on Sunday as the strongest in the Middle East. Recep Tayyip Erdogan made his comments to journalists at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport ahead of an African tour of Mozambique, Madagascar and Tanzania.

His country rejects the division of the Middle East, said Erdogan, who pointed out that this would be the focus of detailed talks with President Donald Trump on his next visit to the United States. He stressed that Turkey is a pivotal state in the Middle East. It would not be right, he explained, for countries unrelated to the Middle East to take strategic decisions affecting the whole region.

The Turkish leader denied that his government has ambitions in Syria and Iraq. Turkey, he insisted, is fighting “terrorist organisations” and does not seek to divide the two countries, or to interfere in their affairs or, indeed, the affairs of any other countries.

In a speech last week, Erdogan predicted an agreement between Ankara and the Trump administration in Washington covering regional issues. Nevertheless, he accused the US and its allies of failing to fight Daesh militants.

Relations between Ankara and Washington have been strained since last July’s attempted coup in Turkey, and they have had disagreements over Obama’s policy in Syria. Erdogan accused the international coalition led by Washington of backing what he considers “terrorist” organisations in the north of Syria, such as the Kurdish Democratic Union and the Kurdish People Protection Units.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170123-erdogan-says-turkey-is-strongest-country-in-the-middle-east/.

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