President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday that the demands made by Arab states on Qatar are not “acceptable under any circumstances.”
Speaking to French news and television network France 24, the president said that Turkey remains loyal to Qatar, but would close its military base if Qatari authorities made such a request.
“When it comes to this list of 13 items … it’s not acceptable under any circumstances,” he said in the interview.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also told German weekly Die Zeit Wednesday that “what is being done with Qatar runs counter to international law.”
He said the Arab states’ demand for a Turkish military base in Qatar to be closed shows “a lack of respect toward us and Qatar.” ”The Americans are also there, with 9,000 soldiers, and so are the French. … Why are the Saudis disturbed by us and not by that? This is unacceptable.”
On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen cut ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism. Qatar has denied the accusations, saying the move to diplomatically isolate it is unjustified. The four Arab states presented Qatar a list of demands, including calls to close the Turkish base in the country, shut down Al-Jazeera TV and cut ties with Iran.
On the Syrian front, Erdoğan said that Turkey was ready to carry out ground operations in the north if its national security ever came under threat. He also added that a de-escalation zone could soon be established by Turkish and Russian troops in the region.
Ankara and Washington have fallen out on the YPG issue. While Ankara considers the YPG to be a terrorist group, Washington is opting to work with it in northern Syria.
While Washington has not changed its approach towards Ankara’s calls regarding the U.S.-YPG relationship, arms and equipment transfers to the YPG has further put strain on Turkish-U.S. relations.
Earlier in 2017, the Donald Trump administration approved to supply tons of heavy weapons and ammunition to the YPG. Up to that time, the U.S. air force had already air-dropped 50 tons of arms and ammunition to the group in October 2015.
In the interview, Erdoğan also touched upon the upcoming independence referendum in northern Iraq. “The KRG’s [Kurdistan Regional Govenment] decision to hold an independence referendum is not the right way to go. They will regret it,” the president said.
Turkey has been vocally against the referendum since it began to be rumored, then finally announced in June. Ankara has reiterated its opposition regarding an independence referendum to be held in Iraqi Kurdistan, arguing that Iraq’s territorial integrity must be protected to avoid further turmoil in the region. President Erdoğan has on many occasions criticized the KRG’s decision to hold an independence referendum on Sept. 25, saying that it has deeply saddened Ankara.
Speaking at the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) group meeting in Parliament, Erdoğan said, “Stepping on northern Iraq’s independence is a threat to Iraq’s territorial integrity and it is wrong. We wish this step would have been taken through consultation. We have always been in favor of Iraq’s territorial integrity.”