Reuters | Jan 05,2012 | 23:55
ANKARA — Middle East powerhouse Turkey on Wednesday warned against a sectarian cold war in the region and said rising Sunni-Shiite tensions would be “suicide” for the whole region.
“Let me openly say that there are some willing to start a regional Cold War,” Foreign Minster Ahmet Davutoglu told state-run Anatolian news agency before heading to Shiite Iran.
“We are determined to prevent a regional Cold War. Sectarian regional tensions would be suicide for the whole region,” Davutoglu said, adding such effects would last for decades.
“Turkey is against all polarisations, in the political sense of Iran-Arab tension or in the sense of forming an apparent axis. This will be one of the crucial messages that I will take to Tehran.”
Majority Sunni Turkey, which borders Iran, Iraq and Syria, has attempted to play a moderating role as rivals Shiite Iran and Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia jockey for influence in a region undergoing sweeping changes brought on by “Arab Spring” popular uprisings .
Davutoglu is expected to hold talks in Tehran later on Wednesday on Iran’s nuclear programme and developments in neighbouring Iraq and Syria.
The United States and the European Union stepped-up pressure on Iran on Wednesday with European diplomats agreeing in principle to ban Iranian oil imports and Washington sending its treasury secretary to Asia to discuss new sanctions.
And Iran has threatened to take action if the US navy moves an aircraft carrier into the Gulf, Tehran’s most aggressive statement yet after weeks of sabre-rattling as new US and EU financial sanctions take a toll on its economy.
“Turkey is fiercely against new regional Shiite-Sunni tensions, or an anti-Iran or similar tensions arising like in the Gulf,” Davutoglu said.
He singled out the case of neighbouring Iraq, which is splitting up into sectarian and ethnic fiefdoms, with Kurds consolidating their autonomy in the north, Shiites dominant across the south and entrenched in Baghdad, and Sunnis exploring whether to set up their own autonomous region in the centre and west.
“Our Iraq policy foresees close contact with all sides. No one should make a mistake here. No one should act with a conviction that one ideology, one sect, one ethnicity could dominate in any country as it was the case in the past. The societies in the region want a new political understanding.”
Note by the editor: What we are seeing now is a power struggle and not a religious dispute. As usual religion is used for political ends, unfortunately.