AFP, Istanbul, 24 Jan 2012 -Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Iraqi authorities on Tuesday that Turkey will not remain silent if they start a sectarian conflict in neighbouring Iraq.
‘(Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri) al-Maliki should know that: if you start a conflict in Iraq in the form of sectarian clashes, it will be impossible for us to remain silent,’ Erdogan said in remarks to his lawmakers in parliament, carried on television.
‘Those who stand by with folded arms watching brothers massacre each other are accomplices to murder,’ Erdogan said.
The Turkish leader heavily criticised Maliki for his accusation that Turkey was intervening in Iraq’s affairs.
‘I consider Maliki’s attitude ... as very ugly and very unfortunate,’ Erdogan said.
‘We expect the Iraqi government to leave aside sectarian discrimination and express a responsible attitude to prevent sectarian conflicts,’ Erdogan said.
Iraq on Sunday claimed that Turkey, Iran and unnamed Arab countries were trying to ‘intervene’ in Baghdad’s month-long political crisis and not respecting its sovereignty.
Baghdad’s claim that Ankara was intervening in Iraqi affairs was already an issue when Erdogan telephoned Maliki on January 10.
Maliki has since criticised Ankara for its remarks, and the two countries have summoned each other’s ambassadors to express their displeasure.
Iraq has been mired in a political crisis since US forces withdrew from the country on December 18, pitting the Shiite-led government against the main Sunni-backed political bloc.