Turkish Minister: Will Take Part Aiming to Retake Mosul From ISIL
Saudi Arabia – The official Saudi Press Agency says King Salman met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the capital, Riyadh, where discussion centered on the ongoing war in Syria, Iran nuclear talks and the turmoil in Yemen.
The meeting marks a thaw in diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which had been tense under the late Saudi King Abdullah largely due to Erdogan’s criticism of Egypt’s military-led ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi from power.
Under King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia branded Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group a terrorist organization, while Turkey welcomed Brotherhood figures seeking refuge.
Erdogan was last in Saudi Arabia in January for Abdullah’s funeral. Before meeting with Salman, he performed the Islamic pilgrimage in Mecca and visited the first mosque built by the Prophet Muhammad in Medina.
Turkey will continue to assess its “further contribution” to an international military operation to retake Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz stated on March 2.
As Ankara is currently planning to provide training to members of some Sunni tribes around Mosul as part of efforts to degrade and defeat jihadists in northern Iraq, bilateral cooperation with Baghdad in the fight against the ISIL could be concretized during Yılmaz’s upcoming visit to Iraq.
Turkey is part of the collation against ISIL and “has started to make a concrete contribution,” Yılmaz told reporters, amid speculation about the planned upcoming operation to force the jihadists out of Mosul.
“We’ll carry out the evaluation for further contribution in due course, based on our national interests. Ultimately we’ll fulfill our responsibility as a coalition member,” he added.
Citing recent remarks by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Yılmaz said Turkey was “ready to fulfill its responsibilities if others do so too.”
He is set to travel to Iraq on March 4 to visit both Baghdad and Arbil, accompanied by officials from both the Foreign Ministry and the Turkish Armed Forces.
During the visit, Turkish and Iraqi officials are expected to sign bilateral agreements for the sharing of intelligence information as part of efforts in the fight against the ISIL threat, according to sources.