Erdogan says Turkey values Iranian stability, praises Rouhani

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani are seen during a joint news conference in Tehran, Iran, October 4, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 03 January 2018
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Erdogan says Turkey values Iranian stability, praises Rouhani

ANKARA:Turkey said on Wednesday President Hassan Rouhani’s response to days of protests across Iran was appropriate and that Ankara valued Iranian stability, in one of the first regional expressions of support for Tehran.
A source in Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s office said he discussed the week-long unrest in Iran during a telephone call with Rouhani. The Iranian president told Erdogan he hoped the protests would be over “in a few days,” the source said.
Erdogan’s sympathetic comments follow an improvement in relations between Ankara and Tehran, which have worked together in recent months to reduce violence in Syria, despite backing opposing sides in the conflict for several years.
Rouhani said on Sunday Iranians had the right to protest and criticize the authorities but their actions should not lead to violence or damage public property.
Erdogan told Rouhani “that he found his comments about not violating the law while exercising their right to peaceful protests was appropriate,” the source said.
On Wednesday pro-government rallies in several Iranian cities drew thousands of marchers waving Iranian flags and pictures of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Turkey’s ties with Iran expanded last year as Ankara’s relations with the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia — Tehran’s main international opponents — all frayed.
Secular but overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim Turkey shares a border with mainly Shiite Muslim Iran. They are the two biggest non-Arab powers in the Middle East region.
In August Iran’s military chief of staff visited Turkey, which is a member of the NATO military alliance, for talks on cooperation in the Syrian conflict and counter-terrorism.
“Iran’s stability is important for us. We are against foreign interventions in Iran,” Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, in remarks quoted by television channel NTV.
“If the leadership is to change in Iran, the Iranian people will do this,” he said.
Broadcaster CNN Turk said Cavusoglu also echoed Rouhani’s suggestion that the United States and Israel had provoked unrest.
“There are two people supporting the demonstrations in Iran: (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu and (US President Donald) Trump,” it quoted Cavusoglu as saying.
Netanyahu has praised Iranian anti-government protesters, while denying as “laughable” accusations that Israel was behind the demonstrations. Trump has tweeted that Iranians are “finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime.”


At least 130 Gazans hit by Israeli gunfire: Palestinian ministry

Updated 19 October 2018
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At least 130 Gazans hit by Israeli gunfire: Palestinian ministry

GAZA CITY: At least 130 Palestinians were hit by Israeli gunfire Friday as thousands protested near Gaza’s border with Israel, the health ministry in the enclave said.
Following calls to avoid an escalation in violence, the demonstrators largely kept their distance from the fortified frontier fence.
But at least 130 Palestinians were injured by live fire in clashes with Israeli soldiers, the health ministry said.
An Israeli army spokesman told AFP that while most of the protesters stayed back from the fence, some came close and threw explosive devices and hand grenades at troops, while burning tires.
“The soldiers who were there responded with riot dispersal means, along with gunfire,” he said.
Since March, Palestinians have moved right up to the border fence every Friday and occasionally breached it, leading to clashes in which more than 200 Palestinians and one Israeli have been killed.
While thousands again gathered for the latest protests in northern Gaza, the demonstrators largely remained at least 100 meters (yards) from the border.
An AFP correspondent said Hamas security officials in at least one location were seen discouraging protesters from nearing the fence.
Kites and balloons equipped with incendiary devices were launched across the border into southern Israel, and the Israeli army said one of its aircraft targeted a group of men launching balloons.
An Egyptian security delegation visited the Gaza Strip on Thursday and encouraged Hamas leader Ismail Haniyah to calm the protests, an Egyptian official said.
A Palestinian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Egyptian security officials had held separate meetings in the past few days with Israeli counterparts and with Hamas leaders in an effort to prevent an escalation in violence.
United Nations envoy Nickolay Mladenov, in a tweet, also urged all sides “to exercise restraint, to proceed in a peaceful manner, and to avoid escalation.”
On Wednesday, two rockets were fired from the Palestinian enclave at Israel, with one destroying a house in the southern city of Beersheba.
In response Israel ramped up armored forces along the Gaza border on Thursday and Israeli air strikes targeted around 20 Hamas targets in Gaza.
More than 2 million Palestinians are packed into the narrow coastal enclave. Israel pulled troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 but maintains tight control of its land and sea borders. Egypt also restricts movement in and out of Gaza on its border. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in the past decade.