By Cansu Dikme
Muslim states should present a united front to protect the holy sites in Jerusalem, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday.
Erdogan, who has repeatedly backed the rights of worshippers to freely pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque, spoke to reporters in Istanbul just before setting off to Jordan for an official visit.
“I want to note the importance we put on the role of Jordan in the protection of the holy places in Jerusalem,” he said. “We don’t want to experience the same abuse, violation of rights and attacks.
“So, the Muslim world should be in solidarity on Jerusalem.”
Jordan is the custodian of the mosque compound in east Jerusalem, the third holiest site for Muslims. The site, known as the Temple Mount, is the most important in Judaism.
Last month, Israel imposed fresh security measures at Al-Aqsa following the killing of two police officers at the site. The measures, including metal detectors and cameras, led to renewed violence between Palestinians and security forces and led to outrage across the Muslim world.
Erdogan, who is being accompanied by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, will travel to Jordanian capital Amman on the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the countries.
As well as addressing the situation in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories during a meeting with King Abdullah II, Erdogan will aim to boost trade and discuss Syria and Iraq amid concerns for the territorial integrity of both.
Next month, the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq plans to hold an independence referendum while the conflict in Syria threatens the break-up of the country.
Monday’s news conference also saw Erdogan questioned about last week’s visit by the head of the Iranian military, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, to Ankara.
The president suggested Iran and Turkey could work together to target the PKK and its affiliate in Iran, the PJAK, at their bases in northern Iraq.
“They constantly bring damage to both Turkey and Iran,” he said. “We are working on the basis that we can come to a conclusion in a different way and in a shorter time if we were in solidarity against this threat.”
He also spoke about suggestions that Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), could be arrested in the near future.
“There is nothing like that on my agenda,” Erdogan told reporters.
Kilicdaroglu organized a march from Ankara to Istanbul after the jailing of CHP lawmaker Enis Berberoglu for revealing state secrets to a newspaper. Berberoglu had passed information about the search of National Intelligence Organization trucks headed to Syria.
Following the march, Erdogan suggested Berberoglu, who is serving a 25-year sentence, could implicate Kilicdaroglu in the case.