ISTANBUL, Turkey – Turkey’s president accused Iran of trying to dominate the region, adding that Ankara could provide “logistical support” to Saudi Arabia in its military operations against the Shiite Houthis in Yemen that are largely believed to be backed by Tehran.
“Iran is trying to dominate the region,” Erdogan warned at a news conference on Thursday.
“Can this be permitted? This has become an annoyance for us, as well as for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries,” he added. “This really cannot be tolerated.”
In a separate interview with France 24 on Thursday, Erdogan said that Ankara backed military intervention by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries against the Shiite Houthis in Yemen.
“We support Saudi Arabia’s intervention,” Erdoğan said. “Turkey may consider providing logistical support, depending on how the situation evolves,” he added.
Saudi and allied warplanes bombed Houthi forces in Yemen on Thursday, with Riyadh warning it could also send in ground troops.
Erdogan warned in his press conference that Iran must withdraw whatever forces it has in Yemen and Syria, and accused Tehran of trying to take over Iraq.
“Iran has to … withdraw any forces, whatever it has in Yemen, as well as Syria and Iraq and respect their territorial integrity.”
He accused Iran of fighting to oust the Islamic State – or Daesh – in Iraq in order to boost its own power. Iran has “a sectarian agenda,” he said. Tehran “wants to fill the void that will be created by Daesh,” he added.
Erdogan is due to visit Tehran in April.
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister expressed alarm that “Iran is taking over Iraq.”