Turkey, Iran agree on need for regional stability amid Israel’s war on Gaza

The war in Gaza topped the agenda as Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iran’s Ebrahim Raisi met in Ankara.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi shake hands following a press conference in Ankara, Turkey [Presidential Press Office/Handout via Reuters]Published On 24 Jan 202424 Jan 2024

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he and his Iranian counterpart have agreed to avoid steps that could threaten Middle East stability, during a visit to Ankara by Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi.

At a news conference after the meeting on Wednesday, Erdogan said the pair had discussed ending Israel’s “inhumane” attacks on Gaza and the imperative for fair and lasting peace in the region.

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“We agreed on the importance of refraining from steps that will further threaten the security and stability of our region,” he said, adding that they had also agreed to continue cooperation against cross-border threats.

Al Jazeera’s Sinem Koseoglu, reporting from Ankara, said the main agenda of the meeting was Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza.

“No one expects the two leaders to stop what’s going on in Gaza, but at least what they aim is to contain the escalation, the growing crisis in region, especially in Yemen, in the Red Sea areas,” Koseoglu said.

“President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said that they are committed to the fight against terrorism,” she added.

Turkey, which has been vocal in its condemnation of Israel’s attacks on Gaza, has called for an immediate ceasefire and backed legal steps for Israel to be tried for genocide.

However, Ankara has maintained its commercial ties with Israel, prompting criticism at home and in Iran.

Palestinians wait at a hospital to collect the bodies of their relatives killed in Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Israel has killed more than 25,700 Palestinians since October 7 [File: AFP]

Iran leads what it calls the “axis of resistance” that includes Hamas, Yemen’s Houthis, and other Shia Muslim groups in the region that have confronted Israel and its Western allies.

In a sign that the war on Gaza threatens to spill over into the wider region, the United States and United Kingdom have struck targets in Yemen in response to Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea.

The Houthis have said their attacks in the busy waterway are aimed at ships with links to Israel and they will continue as long as the war on Gaza continues.

Erdogan has condemned the US and UK’s attacks on Yemen and called them a disproportionate use of force.

Raisi accused the US of supporting what he referred to as Israel’s crimes against Palestinians in Gaza and repeated his call for Muslim nations to cut ties with the “Zionist regime”.

“What is happening in Palestine and Gaza is a crime against humanity … and the United States and the West are supporting these crimes,” he said on Wednesday.

“Cutting economic and political ties with this regime can certainly have an impact on the Zionist regime to end its crimes.”

Turkey and Iran have had complicated ties due to several issues, including the Syrian civil war.

Ankara-backed rebels have attempted to oust Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, while Tehran supported his government.

Recently, Turkey has taken steps to improve ties with Damascus.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies