Erdoğan calls on Saudi Arabia to be on side of fraternity, not enmity

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Turkish President and the leader of the Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan flashes Rabia sign as giving a speech during an Iftar (fast-breaking) dinner event that organized by his party's Istanbul Province Branch within Muslims' holy month of Istanbul in Yenikapi neighborhood of Fatih District of Istanbul, Turkey on June 09, 2017. Arif Hudaverdi Yaman / Anadolu Agency

Amid a diplomatic crisis in the Gulf as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed relations with Doha, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday said Turkey would continue to give all sorts of support to Qatar, saying that Saudi Arabia should be on the side of fraternity, not enmity, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

“There are those who are uncomfortable being with our brothers in Qatar. Sorry about that, but we will continue to give all sorts of support to Qatar,” said Erdoğan during an iftar — fast breaking meal — in İstanbul.

“We know who was happy in the Gulf during the coup attempt [on July 15, 2016] in Turkey. We know how money was spent on it,” said Erdoğan.

‘Never witnessed Qatar supporting terrorism’

Regarding the deal that he ratified late on June 8 on deploying Turkish troops to Qatar and training the Gulf nation’s gendarmerie forces, Erdoğan maintained: “The deal with Qatar is not an issue of today. It is a process of two or three years. We had to approve it in Parliament today. I am calling on friends in the Gulf. Why aren’t you uncomfortable with the American base in Qatar? There are bases of other countries as well. Why do they not disturb you? In fact, I proposed creating military bases in the countries that are uncomfortable today. They told me then that they would evaluate it. But they are uncomfortable today.”

Criticizing a joint statement by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE that placed 59 individuals and 12 organizations — Qatar-based or funded by Qatar — on a “terror list,” Erdoğan added: “They said some foundations were established in Qatar for different purposes. That cannot happen. I know those foundations. I have never witnessed Qatar giving support to terrorism.”

Erdoğan also welcomed a statement by US State Secretary Rex Tillerson on easing sanctions on Qatar, adding that they should be completely lifted.

“I would like to kindly ask the Saudi authorities: You are the biggest and the strongest in the Gulf. We called you the “servant of the holy places.” You should be the crown of fraternity, not enmity. That is what suits Saudi Arabia. That is our right to expect [from Saudi Arabia].”

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