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.”


Lebanon evicting Syrian refugees from towns, says rights group

Updated 21 April 2018
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Lebanon evicting Syrian refugees from towns, says rights group

  • Human Rights Watch said it has documented evictions in 13 towns and villages putting more than 3,600 Syrians on the streets since 2017
  • Evictions said to be instigated by landlords, municipal authorities, and the military intelligence services for a variety of reasons

BEIRUT: Local officials in Lebanon are throwing Syrian out of their towns in a violation of their rights as refugees and residents, a human rights group said in a new report released Friday.
Human Rights Watch said it has documented evictions in 13 towns and villages putting more than 3,600 Syrians on the streets since 2017. It says another 7,000 Syrians were forced to abandon a camp near a military base during that time.
The rights group said it was a worrying trend ahead of an international donors’ summit in Belgium to support Lebanon and other countries neighboring war-torn Syria.
Lebanese politicians say their country is straining under the weight of hosting nearly one million Syrian refugees. The tiny Mediterranean country has the highest per capita refugee population in the world: roughly one in five people are refugees, including some 175,000 Palestinians.
Syrians face numerous barriers to employment, education, and housing in Lebanon, with many forced to live under the radar because Lebanon ordered the UN’s refugee commission to halt refugee registrations in 2015.
But anti-Syrian rhetoric has ticked up in recent months as parliamentary elections loom in May.
Local officials in several municipalities have ordered Syrians out en masse, posting eviction notices on their doors, and sometimes sending the police to physically intimidate the refugees if they do not comply, said Human Rights Watch.
The evictions do not appear to have the formal support of the national government. Human Rights Watch called on national authorities to step in and stop the evictions.
“Right now, Syrian refugees do not have the guarantee that they are safe in their homes,” said Bassam Khawaja, a Lebanon researcher for Human Rights Watch.
The UN’s refugee agency said in a March report it had documented 13,700 Syrian refugee evictions in 2017. It said evictions were instigated by landlords, municipal authorities, and the military intelligence services for a variety of reasons, including security, social tensions, and failure to pay rent.
Human Rights Watch says another 42,000 refugees are at risk for eviction.