Iran summons Turkish ambassador over accusations Tehran ‘trying to turn Syria and Iraq into Shiite’

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu delivers his speech during the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich. (Reuters)
Updated 21 February 2017
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Iran summons Turkish ambassador over accusations Tehran ‘trying to turn Syria and Iraq into Shiite’

BEIRUT/ANKARA: Iran summoned the Turkish ambassador in Tehran on Monday over comments made by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing Iran of destabilizing the region.
Tehran and Ankara support opposite sides in the conflict in Syria with mostly Shiite Iran backing the government of President Bashar Assad while Turkey, which is majority Sunni, has backed elements of the Syrian opposition.
In Iraq, commanders of the predominantly Shiite Popular Mobilization Units, many of whom are trained and funded by Iran, have been highly critical of Turkey’s military presence there.
On Sunday, Cavusoglu told delegates at a security conference in Munich that “Iran wants to turn Syria and Iraq into Shiite,” according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.
Cavusoglu also said Turkey was against any sectarianism in the Middle East and had called on Iran to stop threatening the region’s stability and security.
“We will be patient with their positions,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on Monday in reference to the comments made in Munich, according to the Mehr News agency. “But there is a certain cap for our patience.”
The Turkish Foreign Ministry responded by saying Iran should “revise its regional policies and take constructive steps, rather than criticizing countries that voice criticism of Iran.”
But Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus had earlier in the day struck a more conciliatory tone, downplaying any reports of tension.
“Iran and Turkey are friendly nations. There can be differences in views from time to time, but there can’t be animosity because of comments,” he told reporters during a news conference after a Cabinet meeting.
“Even if our political differences with Iran emerge, these shouldn’t be blown out of proportion,” he said.


Lebanese town bans Muslims from buying, renting property

Updated 34 min 26 sec ago
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Lebanese town bans Muslims from buying, renting property

  • Lebanese Christian communities feel under siege as Muslims leave overcrowded areas
  • This comes against the backdrop of deep-rooted sectarian divisions that once erupted into a 15-year civil war

BEIRUT: The case of Hadat, a once-Christian Lebanese town that bars Muslims from buying or renting property, has sparked a national outcry.
It reflects the country’s rapidly changing demographic make-up against the backdrop of deep-rooted sectarian divisions that once erupted into a 15-year civil war that left more than 100,000 people dead.
Lebanese Christian communities feel under siege as Muslims leave overcrowded areas for once predominantly Christian neighborhoods.
Mohammed Awwad and his fiancee, both Muslims, recently found an affordable apartment for rent online in Hadat, southeast of Beirut, but were stunned when they found that Muslims are not allowed to settle in the town.
Hadat is the only area where such a ban is publicly announced. Elsewhere, it’s imposed in more discreet ways.