– Iraqi PM: Turkey not threatened by Syria, don’t overblow war or drag in NATO (RT, Oct 10, 2012):
NATO must not use protecting Turkey as a pretext to intervene in Syria, the Iraqi PM said during a Russian press conference. The statement followed an escalation of tensions between Turkey and Syria following last week’s cross-border shelling.
“The story goes that supposedly Syrian planes dropped bombs on Turkish territory, but everything has been over-exaggerated, even if it did really happen,” Nouri al-Maliki said.
He argued that no one was threatening Turkey, and that there was no need for them to call on NATO for support.
“Turkey is being presumptuous, you could say, as if it were taking responsibility for solving the Syrian conflict instead of the Syrian people and wants to impose its own solution. For this reason the international community needs to stop Turkey from intervening,” he said.
Al-Maliki also firmly denied allegations that Iraq allows Iran to deliver weapons to Syria through its territory.
“This is not true,” he said, “we have been doing random checks of aircrafts and have not discovered any weapon aboard.”
Earlier, the US urged Iraq to close its airspace to Iranian planes.
Al-Maliki is on a three-day visit to Russia, where he said that Iraq’s position on Syria is similar to Russia’s one as both countries are calling for peaceful resolution of the conflict. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin postponed a visit to Ankara, Turkey, because of his busy schedule this month, the Kremlin press office told RT.
Putin’s decision to postpone the visit came amid increased antagonism between Turkey and Syria. Previously, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov appealed to Damascus and Ankara to negotiate to avert an escalation in the conflict, referring to the shelling as a “tragic casualty.”
“To Moscow’s great disappointment Ankara has taken a very firm stance against President Assad in the Syrian conflict, Turkey has practically become a base for the so-called ‘Friends of Syria.’ … Ankara’s actions contradict Russia’s calls not to take sides in the conflict,” he said.
The Turkish government also bolstered its military presence in the region, including the deployment of 25 F-16 jet fighters to the Diyarbakir base, 100 kilometers from the Syrian border.