Turkish Foreign Minister Denies Existence of Turkey-Iran-Qatar ‘Axis’

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Dec. 26 dismissed claims there were cooperation deals being signed between Turkey, Iran and Qatar, Hurriyet Daily News reports.

Çavuşoğlu spoke in Sudan’s capital Khartoum as part of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ongoing visit to the region. At a press conference held with his Sudanese counterpart, Ibrahim Ghandour, Çavuşoğlu spoke about Turkey’s Middle East policy. When asked about prospects for regional cooperation between Ankara, Tehran and Doha, he said:

“There is no Turkey-Iran-Qatar axis.”

Turkey does not discriminate between fellow Muslim countries, Çavuşoğlu said, adding that Ankara had been one of the most vocal critics of Iran’s Syria and Iraq policies.

“Now we have very warm ties with Sudan. Does that mean there is a Turkey-Sudan axis? Turkey’s main concern is to promote unity across the Islamic world, not to sow sedition between Muslim countries as others have done” he said.

Cavusoglu stressed that the Gulf crisis has no realistic reason, reiterating Turkey’s support for Kuwaiti mediation and reaffirming that there is no reason why the crisis would not be settled. The Turkish minister said his country pays special attention to security in Africa in general and Sudan in particular, noting that Ankara will continue to offer security support to Sudan and combat terrorism in the Red Sea region.

Ghandour, for his part, reiterated his country’s keenness to maintain security in the Red Sea, stressing Sudan’s readiness to cooperate with different states of the region in this regard. He went on to point out that Turkey and Sudan had signed an agreement on Dec. 25 pertaining to Red Sea security, which, he asserted, could pave the way for stepped-up military cooperation with Ankara.

“Further military arrangements with Turkey are highly likely. We have just signed a military agreement that could lead to greater military cooperation with Turkey in regards to the Red Sea,” he said.

Ghandour also revealed that Sudan had temporarily leased Sudan’s Suakin Island to Turkish investors.

Located along Sudan’s Red Sea coast, Suakin Island is home to numerous Ottoman-era monuments.  During Erdoğan’s three-day visit to Sudan, which wrapped up Dec. 26, the two countries signed 21 cooperation agreements covering the fields of agriculture, petroleum, industry, health, education and mining, along with military, political and diplomatic relations.