By Can Erozden and Ali Abo Rezeg
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Friday that his country supports Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria.
"We support what Turkey is doing nowadays in Syria, I do believe that the aims of Turkey and Saudi Arabia in the region are almost the same," Al-Jubeir told a panel on Turkish-Saudi relations held at the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) think-tank in Turkey's capital Ankara.
"We stand with any move that helps to eliminate the Daesh terrorist organization from Syria, and anywhere else in the region," he added.
Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield began on Aug. 24 when the Free Syrian Army, backed by the Turkish military, liberated Jarabulus in northern Syria.
Al-Jubeir said that Saudi Arabia and Turkey have been partners and allies for decades.
"We have very strong economic ties, investment ties, and person-to-person ties,” he stated.
"Today we are working very closely on the Syrian crisis and we support the moderate opposition there. We are working very closely towards pushing back sectarianism and sectarian policies in the region," he added.
- 'Turkey should be proud of its citizens'
On Saudi Arabia’s position on the July 15 defeated coup in Turkey, al-Jubeir said, "We saw a legitimate, democratic government and we see an illegal attempt to try to bring about change by force. What we saw was heroism on the part of the Turkish people."
"The Turkish people – including children, women, the elderly, students, conservatives, and liberals – took to the streets and confronted tanks and said 'no,' which was truly inspiring," he added.
"Turkish people have earned the respect of the world. I think Turkey should be proud of its citizens," he stated.
The Turkish government says U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen organized the July 15 coup attempt, which left 240 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania since 1997, is also accused of running a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary, forming what is commonly known as the parallel state.
On cooperation between Turkey and Saudi Arabia in eliminating any Gulen movement networks in the Gulf or Saudi Arabia, al-Jubeir said, "We have very extensive cooperation with Turkey when it comes to counter-terrorism and law enforcement. And we have extensive exchanges of information between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Turkey."
He added that Saudi Arabia is always open to more cooperation in any area, including security.
'Assad has no future in Syria'
"We have been working with a number of countries to support the moderate Syrian opposition. At the same time we have been working to put in place a political process through which a political transition can take place in Syria," said the Saudi foreign minister.
"We believe that this political process should be based on UN [Security Council] Resolution 2254."
"We believe that Assad has no future in Syria, as the presence of [regime leader] Bashar al-Assad is the magnet that attracts terrorists to Syria, and that if we want to be able to defeat terrorism, we need to remove this magnet," Adel al-Jubeir added.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the regime of Bashar al-Assad cracked down on pro-democracy protests – which erupted as part of the Arab Spring uprisings – with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced across the war-torn country, according to the UN, but the Syrian Center for Policy Research puts the death toll at more than 470,000
Iran and Yemen
On Saudi-Iranian relations, al-Jubeir said, "Saudi Arabia would like to cooperate and trade with Iran as a neighbor country – we have offered our hand to Iran many times before – but unfortunately it was rejected by the Iranian side."
"Iran continues to behave as a sectarian state, not a nation-state. Iran continues to support terrorist organizations in Lebanon, Yemen, and Syria," he said. "The evidence that Iran supports terrorism in the region is overwhelming. Therefore Iran has to respect International law and the neighborhood rules."
Saudi Arabia severed official ties with Iran early this year after its diplomatic missions there were attacked by protesters following the execution of a prominent Shia cleric by Saudi authorities.
As for the war in Yemen, al-Jubeir said, "The official Saudi position stands with the moves done by the United Nations to resolve the conflict in Yemen, and we advocate Resolution 2216 on Yemen, which calls for ending the use of violence in the country."
Yemen has been wracked by chaos since late 2014, when the Houthis and their allies overran the capital Sanaa and other parts of the country, forcing President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and his Saudi-backed government to temporarily flee to Riyadh.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.