In defense of Turkey’s ME role

Ayse Hilal Sayan Koytak Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to Kuwait

I have read in dismay the article entitled “Turk-led alliance needs an assertive response” by Mr Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor (UAE Businessman) published in your daily on 31 December 2017. The article is replete with factual errors, preposterous accusations and poisonous rhetoric about my country Turkey and our leaders. I would not have taken this openly antagonistic article seriously or considered dignifying it with a reply, had it not appeared in the front page of a major newspaper in the brotherly country of Kuwait.

References to President Erdogan in the article, including the outrageous comparison with Al Baghdadi, are out of line and unacceptable. Turkey’s only regional ambition is a secure and stable Middle East governed by mutual respect and peaceful co-existence. Crises in the Middle East are issues that pertain to the preservation of international peace, security and stability, and hence cannot be exclusively considered as “Arab affairs.” Some of these issues are directly related to Turkey’s national security and stability.

Over 3,4 million Syrians in Turkey is a stark and enduring reminder in this regard. Neither country in the region nor Turkey has the capacity to resolve these problems single handedly. We, therefore, need the concerted efforts of all countries in the region to this end. Attempting to isolate or distance Turkey from the region will not contribute to the resolution of these problems.

Furthermore, as the differences between Qatar and some states in the region have demonstrated most recently, there is a need for greater unity and solidarity within the region. Turkey’s efforts are geared towards helping in such a way to focus the attention of all people in the region on addressing pressing regional challenges of our region. As a country fighting terrorism for decades, it is inconceivable for Turkey to support any third country supporting terrorism.

Our brothers and friends need not be threatened by the presence of Turkish troops which have been deployed to contribute to the stability and security of the Gulf region. Their presence is based on the explicit consent, sovereign will and consent of Qatar, enshrined in a military cooperation agreement signed with Turkey. It is worth recalling that other Gulf countries also host military forces or bases of other third countries.

Likewise, some of the Gulf countries have plans to deploy troops in other third countries. As the Summit Chair of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, it is the moral duty of Turkey to lead on issues relating to the Islamic world such as the status of Al-Quds.

This is not a contest for leadership and it is not important which country is leading our common efforts. What is important is whether the individual contributions are contributing to our common causes in the Islamic world. In the final analysis, I believe that the time-tested and well-established bonds of friendship between Turkey and the Arab countries are too strong to be threatened by those that attempt to undermine them.

 

By Ayse Hilal Sayan Koytak
Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to Kuwait

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