Turkey should avoid picking sides in the current diplomatic crisis between Saudi Arabia and Iran, according to experts.
“I hope that Turkey doesn’t feel that it needs to rush in and take sides in this issue. It’s not in the interests of the region that everyone lines up on one side or the other,” said Stephen Kinzer, a visiting fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies and a former bureau chief for the New York Times in Istanbul.
Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia terminated diplomatic ties with its longtime rival Iran, which has a Shi’a majority, on Sunday following an attack by protestors on its embassy in Tehran. The protestors, who the Saudi foreign minister said were supported by the Iranian governmSaudi Arabia vs Iran: The view from Turkey, stuck in the middleSaudi Arabia vs Iran: The view from Turkey, stuck in the middleent, were angry at Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent Shi’a cleric and critic of the Kingdom Nimr Al-Nimr on Saturday.
Saudi Arabia vs Iran: The view from Turkey, stuck in the middle
“This certainly heralds a more acute period of confrontation between the two,” said Sinan Ülgen, former Turkish diplomat and chairman of The Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies in Istanbul.
Turkey, majority-Sunni, has relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran, and has called for restraint from both sides. Ankara criticized Saudi Arabia for “political death penalties” without specifically mentioning Nimr, and said Iran must protect all diplomatic missions in its country, calling the attacks on the Saudi embassy “unacceptable.”
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