Turkey supports Saudi mission in Yemen, says Iran must withdraw
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In an interview with FRANCE 24 on Thursday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey supports the Saudi-led mission to rout Shiite rebels from Yemen and criticised Iran's regional ambitions in both Yemen and Iraq.
Erdogan told FRANCE 24 that Ankara may consider providing "logistical support" to the Saudi-led military mission launched overnight Thursday in Yemen. Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition that includes most of the Gulf states as well as Egypt, Sudan, Morocco and Jordan to rout the Shiite Houthi rebels that have seized parts of Yemen and its capital Sanaa and forced the president to flee.
"We support Saudi Arabia's intervention," Erdogan said. "Turkey may consider providing logistical support based on the evolution of the situation."
The Houthis – widely thought to be backed by Shiite regional power Iran – must withdraw from the country, Erdogan said, along with the terrorist groups also active in Yemen, including al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
"Iran and the terrorist groups must withdraw," he said.
Erdogan went on to discuss Iran's ambitions in Iraq and the US-led coalition to defeat Islamic State militants. "The aim of Iran is to increase its influence in Iraq," he said. "Iran is trying to chase Daesh from the region only to take its place," he added, using the Arabic term for the Islamic State group.
"I have already said that I find the coalition air strikes to be insufficient," he said. "A ground intervention will be necessary to overcome Daesh."
The Islamic State group "has nothing to do with Islam and it is not a state", Erdogan said.
"It is a terrorist group," he said.