Turkey voices concern over Iran protests, calls for violence to be avoided as death toll continues to grow

People protest in Tehran, Iran Dec. 30, 2017 in in this picture obtained from social media. (Reuters)
Updated 02 January 2018

Turkey voices concern over Iran protests, calls for violence to be avoided as death toll continues to grow

Istanbul: Turkey on Tuesday said it was “concerned” by days-long protests that have engulfed neighboring Iran, warning against any escalation in the unrest.
“Turkey is concerned by news the protests in Iran... are spreading, causing casualties and also the fact that some public buildings were damaged,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, adding “common sense should prevail to prevent any escalation.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has tried to play down the unrest, which began over economic grievances in second city Mashhad last Thursday but quickly turned against the Islamic regime as a whole with chants of “Death to the dictator.”
The five-day unrest, the biggest challenge to the Islamic regime since the 2009 mass demonstrations, has so far claimed 21 lives.
Turkey — which was hit by protests against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (then premier) in 2013 — said it “attaches the utmost importance to the maintenance of peace and stability in friendly and brotherly Iran.”
The ministry said Rouhani’s statements warning against violation of laws and damage of public property should be adhered to.
“We believe that violence and provocations should be avoided,” it said, warning against “external interventions.”
Turkey, whose rivalry with Iran goes back to the regional battle for supremacy between the Ottoman Empire and imperial Persia, has had on occasion tricky moments in relations with Tehran.
Erdogan has repeatedly railed against “Persian imperialism” in the Middle East but relations have warmed in the last months as Moscow and Tehran work tightly with Ankara to bring peace to Syria.
Turkey’s conservative press on their front pages sounded grave unease over the protests, which the pro-government Yeni Safak daily described as a “dangerous escalation.”
It accused the United States of being behind the violence with the aim of the “Syria-ization” of Iran. “The Pentagon has started its 2018 chaos plans from Iran.”
“The dirty game is now in Iran,” added the Star daily on its front page. “The West is behind the sedition in Iran... if it’s successful there, the target will be Turkey,” added the Yeni Akit daily.


Israeli attack aimed to get Netanyahu out of the jam

Updated 5 min 45 sec ago

Israeli attack aimed to get Netanyahu out of the jam

AMMAN: Pundits and politicians appear to agree that the assassination of Islamic Jihad leader Bahaa Abu Al-Atta and his wife in Gaza, as well as the failed attack in Damascus against Akram Ajoury was committed to assuage domestic Israeli political tensions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing a corruption indictment and possibly about to lose power to opponent Benny Gantz, apparently acted in his own self-interest, disrupting political talks and potentially destabilizing Gantz’ support from the Arab Joint List.

Jafar Farah, director of the Haifa-based Mossawa Center, told Arab News the Israeli attack in Gaza had all but ended the possibility of the Joint List supporting any Israeli government.

“Before the attack, 10 out of the 13 elected members of the Knesset were on board with the idea of supporting, externally, a minority government. Now the number of those supporting this has been reduced, as the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality are opposed to supporting any government,” he said.

Gantz, who apparently was briefed before the attack, has come out publicly in support of Israel’s actions, which killed over 20 Palestinians including women and children.

Michel Oun, Middle East professor at Haifa University, told Arab News that a major reason behind the Israeli attack was internal politics. “If we can use football terms, we were in the last minutes of the game, time was running out on Netanyahu, he had to do something,” Oun said, adding that the attack had ended any possibility of an Israeli minority government with the Arab Joint List supporting it.

“I was always skeptical about this issue even before the attacks on Gaza, because of the paternalistic and racist way Israelis were talking about it in which the very idea of having Arab members of the Knesset supporting a government, even from the outside, was seen as unacceptable and treasonous.”

Merav Michaeli, a member of the Knesset from the Israeli Labor Party, told Arab News that the way Netanyahu used the attack in Gaza was suspicious. 

“I saw the chief of staff and head of the secret service standing and talking about the necessity and opportunity that was provided to them. I believe that the Israeli civil service officials are telling the truth, although the attack was greatly exploited and abused politically. The very fact that Netanyahu had to bring these military officials to the press conference shows that half of Israel does not trust him and he had to have them confirm their position,” she said.

Pundits had opposing views as to who would benefit from the stretch of the cycle of attacks with Gaza. “Regardless of politics I hope that the violence ends as soon as possible,” Michaeli told Arab News.