Turkey rebukes Iran’s ‘offensive language’ against Erdogan

Turkey rebukes Iran’s ‘offensive language’ against Erdogan
Members of a Turkish forces commando brigade take part in a military parade in which Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev, looked on in Baku, Azerbaijan, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 13 December 2020

Turkey rebukes Iran’s ‘offensive language’ against Erdogan

Turkey rebukes Iran’s ‘offensive language’ against Erdogan
  • Iranian authorities summoned Turkey’s ambassador to Tehran to complain about Erdogan’s “interventionist and unacceptable remarks”

ISTANBUL: Turkey on Saturday rebuked Tehran for “offensive language” aimed at President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in connection with a controversial poem that might suggest Iran’s northwestern provinces belong to Azerbaijan.
Iran and Turkey have increased economic cooperation over the past decade but remain rivals in several parts of the Middle East and Central Asia.
On Thursday, Erdogan paid a visit to staunch ally Azerbaijan for a military parade marking Baku’s victory over Armenia after six weeks of fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
During his visit, Erdogan recited a poem that Tehran said could fan separatism among Iran’s Azeri minority.
Iran is home to a large Azeri community, mainly in northwestern provinces next to Azerbaijan and Armenia, where the Aras river defines the border.
The next day, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter that “President Erdogan was not informed that what he ill-recited in Baku refers to the forcible separation of areas north of Aras from Iranian motherland.”
According to Iran’s ISNA news agency, the poem is “one of the separatist symbols of pan-turkism.”
ISNA said the verses point to Aras and “complains of the distance between Azeri-speaking people on the two sides of the river.”
Iranian authorities summoned Turkey’s ambassador to Tehran to complain about Erdogan’s “interventionist and unacceptable remarks.”

HIGHLIGHT

During his visit to Azerbaijan, Erdogan recited a poem that Tehran said could fan separatism among Iran’s Azeri minority.

In return, Turkey summoned Iran’s ambassador to Ankara over the “baseless” claims.
Turkey doubled down on Saturday, with a statement by presidential communications director Fahrettin Altun that said: “We condemn the use of offensive language toward our president and our country over the recitation of a poem, whose meaning has been deliberately taken out of context.”
Altun said the poem “passionately reflects the emotional experience of an aggrieved people due to Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijani lands.”
“It does not include any references to Iran. Nor is that country implied in any way, shape or form.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told his Iranian counterpart in a phone call Saturday that “baseless and heavy statements made by Iran and aimed at our president are unacceptable,” a Turkish Foreign Ministry source said.
At difficult times of Iran, Turkey stood in solidarity with Iran when others turned their back against Tehran, and this increased the extent of Ankara’s disappointment, Cavusoglu told Zarif, according to the source.


Israeli police prevent Dome of the Rock repairs

Israeli police prevent Dome of the Rock repairs
This picture shows the Dome of the Rock at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Jerusalem's Old City on July 27, 2018, after the site was reopened. (AFP)
Updated 25 January 2021

Israeli police prevent Dome of the Rock repairs

Israeli police prevent Dome of the Rock repairs
  • Council set to denounce action that is ‘violation of understandings’

AMMAN: Israeli police have stopped workers from the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf from renovating the Dome of the Rock for two consecutive days, raising tensions in the old city.

Azzam Khatib, director of the Jordanian Waqf department in Jerusalem, informed Jordan’s Ambassador in Tel Aviv Ghassan Majali and Minister of Waqf in Amman Mohammed Khalaileh of the news.

Israeli officials claim the decision was made after an individual tried to renovate the ceiling of the Bab Al-Rahmeh mosque, which Israel has demanded Muslims to vacate, without reason.

The Jerusalem Waqf Council is expected to issue a strong statement denouncing the Israeli action, calling it a violation of understandings.

Bassam Hallaq, the Waqf engineer in charge of the renovation, said that Israeli police stopped work on the gold-plated Dome of the Rock on Saturday and Sunday, and prevented urgent electric work, too.

Israel insists that any renovation or repair must be pre-approved. The renovation is not structural.

Arab News has learned that the Israeli actions on Saturday and Sunday followed the efforts of an unknown Palestinian whose face was covered, who climbed the roof of the Bab Al-Rahmeh mosque in order to apply cement to stop leaks.

Israel has forbidden any repair work on the mosque.

Hallaq said that all repair work in the entire Al-Aqsa compound has also been suspended by Israel.

The mosque’s engineer insists that the Waqf has no cement materials inside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and that Friday was a holiday when staff did not work.

Sheikh Omar Kisswani, director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, told reporters that repairs to the entire 144 dunum Haram Al-Sharif/Al-Aqsa mosque compound were the right of the Islamic Waqf and that the Israeli police have no right to interfere in their work.

A spokesman for the Israeli police told Arab News that the “subject isn’t under the responsibility of the Israeli police.”