Turkish President Abdullah Gül has said it would be “unrealistic” to have any discussion on the Syrian war without the inclusion of Iran, adding that Turkey and Iran were both directly involved in the ongoing process.
“Frankly, it’s unrealistic to talk about Syria without Iran. There has yet to be a common understanding with Iran, but you cannot exclude it,” Gül told reporters in New York, in which he highlighted “the new era” in Iranian politics with the election of President Hassan Rouhani.
Gül is in New York to represent Turkey at the 68th General Assembly meeting of the United Nations, where Syria will likely be the top item on his agenda. He will meet Rouhani and French President François Hollande on the sidelines of the event.
“France is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and has historic ties with Syria,” Gül said, speaking of the importance of his meeting with Hollande.
He added that Turkey, due to its direct relevance to the issue, would be one of the countries that should be paid most attention to during the Syria discussion, even though the issue affected many countries worldwide. Iran, too, shared a similar direct connection to the crisis, according to the president.
Gül said that while others could feel sadness over the ongoing crisis in Syria, Turkey would be directly affected by events, and not just by their reflections. He then touched upon the ongoing clashes at the Turkey-Syria border, describing “radical groups” as one of Turkey “greatest concerns.”
“These come out through a process. If unfairness and cruelty is brought to one side, then there a resistance to it will come. As long as such an environment lasts in a country, one group ultimately gets more and more radicalized in the face of injustice. Then groups we may call terrorists will emerge.
Perhaps none of them were radicals or terrorists at first, but these circumstances brought them to it. People who would not even crush ants could come to such a point where they will enter that cruelty,” Gül said, according to Anadolu Agency.
‘No tolerance for radicalism’
President Gül also said that the kind of groups that have been emerging lately in Syria have been clashing with each other, and warned that radical elements could go as far as terrorism.
“To us this is a security threat. It matters to us in the first degree. Radicalism could go as far as terrorism and we cannot tolerate this,” he said, according to daily Hürriyet.
Turkey has temporarily closed its Öncüpınar border gate in the southeastern province of Kilis, after fighting between Syrian rebels and an al-Qaeda front group in the northern town of Azaz.
Azaz, on the Turkish border, was one of the first towns to be overrun, in July 2012, by opposition Free Syrian Army rebels, who set up their own administration there.
The Öncüpınar crossing in Turkey’s Kilis province sits opposite the Syrian Bab al-Salameh gate, around five kilometers from Azaz.
Tensions between some opposition groups and ISIS have spiraled in recent months, especially in northern Syria, where opposition forces control vast swathes of territory.
Several local groups resent the ISIS’s growing territorial control, its steady supply of arms, as well as its brutality, which opponents often compare to that of the regime. The ISIS, on the other hand, accuses some rebels affiliated with the FSA’s Supreme Military Command of collaborating with the West, and of being “heretics.”