Erdogan backs Iran amid global blame for Saudi attacks


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has backed Iran amid global accusations over drone attacks on two Saudi oil facilities this month.

“Well I don’t think it would be the right thing to blame Iran,” Erdogan said Tuesday in an interview with Fox News.

He recalled the fact that the attacks came from several parts of Yemen.

“If we just place the entire burden on Iran, it won’t be the right way to go. Because the evidence available does not necessarily point to that fact,” said the president.

Tensions have escalated in the Gulf after drones hit two oil facilities in the north of Saudi Arabia on Sept. 14.

Yemen’s Houthi rebel group initially claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the U.S. has since blamed Iran, as has Saudi Arabia. The Islamic Republic has denied any connection to the strikes.

Turning to U.S. sanctions on the Islamic Republic, the president said there is no point to them.

“We are here today and gone tomorrow. Specifically, we are neighbors with Iran, and I know that sanctions never solved anything,” said Erdogan.

The president also rejected an allegation by U.S. newspaper The New York Post claiming that Turkey has been helping Iran, Venezuela and Syria evade U.S. sanctions through Turkish banks and companies.

“These are allegations voiced by a terrorist organization known as FETO,” said Erdogan, referring to the Fetullah Terror Organization, the group behind the July 15, 2016 defeated coup in Turkey.

“These allegations are more than wrong. These are all produced propaganda by the FETO terrorist organization,” the president said, adding Turkish banks are in full compliance with banking regulations.

“Banking regulation transactions have always been conducted within the framework of international recognized principles,” he added.

FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

  • Extradition of FETO leader

The president said the U.S. demanded documents and evidence for the extradition of Gulen.

He said Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul met with U.S. Attorney General William Barr in June and he spoke to President Donald Trump.

“We submitted evidence in folders, but we never got any results,” said Erdogan. “If we are strategic partners, we need to fight back together against terrorism.”

The FETO leader has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.

Ankara has requested Gulen’s extradition from the U.S. several times. Washington has yet to move towards extraditing him.

On Turkey-U.S. relations, the president said the relations date back to a long history “built upon very strong bonds.”

“Our eventual goal is to expand economic relations between the United States and Turkey and increase the trade volume between the two countries up to $100 billion.”

Asked to evaluate whether Trump or Barack Obama was better in relations with Turkey, the president rejected making such an assessment.

“I must say that since President Trump took office, we have been enjoying close ties and close relations,” he said.
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