Davutoglu slams Ieaq'a Maliki in deepening dispute
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Tuesday slammed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for accusing Turkey of feeding instability in the region, saying that the Iraqi leader should deal with his country's urgent problems, such as power cuts, first. "Maliki has been the prime minister of Iraq for seven years," Davutoglu told reporters on the sidelines of a ministerial meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Cairo. "The question he should first ask himself is why there are power cuts in Iraq's cities, including Baghdad, despite the fact that Iraq possesses rich energy resources," he said. Maliki, a Shiite politician who has exchanged bitter criticism with Turkish leaders for months, also accused Turkey of "serving Israeli interests" by working to eliminate an "Iraq-Syria-Egypt axis," according to several Turkish websites. Maliki is at odds with the Turkish government on a number of issues, including the Syrian crisis, energy cooperation Turkey has with the Iraqi Kurds despite Baghdad's protests, and Turkey's refusal to extradite Iraq's fugitive Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi despite a court decision in Baghdad sentencing him to death on charges of running death squads to eliminate his political rivals. Davutoglu also said that Maliki was "not at a level" to assess the role of Turkey in the region. "Maliki can ask the people of Palestine, Egypt, the Gulf countries and nations in the North Africa and even the people of Iraq in Mosul and Basra about the contribution and influence of Turkey. Until last year, Maliki sought the support of Turkey when Iraq faced with terrorist attacks and we [Turkey] helped the county as much as possible. While Maliki regarded Turkey as a peace envoy and a regional actor for solving problems in the region in the past, Maliki's latest remarks on Turkey have shown that he contradicts himself," added Davutoglu. Davutoglu also noted that Turkey has never discriminated between different ethnicities in its foreign policies, such as Turkmens, Arabs or Kurds, or different sects, adding that nothing could damage the ties of friendship between Turkish and Iraqi people. The Turkish foreign minister also suggested that Maliki appreciate the value of Turkey's friendship. In remarks reportedly aired by a Lebanese television station on Friday, Maliki stepped up his criticism of Turkey, saying Ankara is trying to "impose its own policies on Syria, Iraq and Egypt" and thus causes security problems to emerge in these countries. In a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday in response Maliki's remarks on Lebanese television, Turkey suggested that Maliki should not turn to other countries to look for the source of problems in his country. It also said instead of directing accusations towards neighboring countries, Maliki should respond to the democratic aspirations of the Iraqi people and respect the Iraqi constitution and democratic institutions. Maliki told Lebanese television that foreign interference in Syria was apparent and said the entire world was complaining about the Turkish-Qatari role in the civil war-torn country. He also said "some countries" are inciting sectarian divisions in Syria and Iraq. Turkey, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is one of the staunchest supporters of the Syrian opposition trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad, an ally of Shiite Iran. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are widely reported to supply funds and arms to the opposition, while Turkey denies any assistance that goes beyond humanitarian aid for refugees.