Speaking on a wide array of issues in a televised program aired both on NTV and Star TV on Friday evening, Erdo?an criticized Iran over remarks threatening Turkey with respect to the Patriot deployment.
On Saturday, Iranian Chief of General Staff Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi warned NATO that stationing Patriot missiles on Turkey’s border with Syria is setting the stage for a world war.
Earlier this week Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akber Salehi also joined a growing chorus of criticism and warned Turkey, saying the Patriot move is provocative.
“It is believed here that stationing these missiles in Turkey is an act of provocation, not deterrence,” Salehi reportedly said.
Erdo?an slammed the remarks from Iran and asked who the Iranian chief of General Staff was speaking on behalf of.
“When we consult the Iranian president diplomatically on such remarks, he says those remarks reflect personal opinions, not Iran’s official position. Then you see someone else appear and speak. It is not clear who is talking on behalf of whom, whose remarks represent the country’s official stance and whose do not,” Erdo?an said, lamenting that the pattern in Iranian foreign policy discourse remains unchanged and ambiguous.
He previously complained about who represents Iran’s official stance when many politicians and military commanders issued threats against Turkey. Whenever Ankara contacts Tehran, the Iranian government backpedals and says the remarks are nothing more than personal views.
“They claim that [the statement was not official but the personal opinion of the commentator]. I can guess their response before they make it,” Erdo?an said.
On the festering Syrian conflict, which has raised concerns of a regional conflagration and fuels fears of a spillover into neighboring countries, the Turkish prime minister said Turkey will not backtrack from its current stance.
Although not specifying how much time is left for Bashar al-Assad, Erdo?an said its only a matter of time before the Syrian president falls. Because the Syrian people do not want him, he will go, sooner or later, the Turkish prime minister pointed out, adding that Assad has lost control over the land. He said Assad had brought Syria to the brink of an overt sectarian war.
Erdo?an said Western support to the opposition fells short of expectations. He also said the lack of action in the UN Security Council had bolstered Assad. He stated that Iran is the foremost backer of the Assad regime, whose isolation in the international arena is ever more clear.
Erdo?an also reiterated his concerns over the fragile political situation in Iraq, where sectarian strife is rife, warning that the country could easily turn into another Syria.
He said the central government in Baghdad is a minority government.
As for the scenarios over the territorial integrity of Iraq, which recently become the scene of an armed standoff between troops loyal to the central government in Baghdad and Kurdish forces in the northern region, Erdo?an said: “The division of Iraq is being talked about, but I am of the opinion that this should not happen.”