The situation in Iraq’s Daesh-held city of Mosul topped the agenda at a Thursday meeting in Riyadh between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Saudi counterpart, Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir.
Later the same day, Cavusoglu also attended a meeting of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) foreign ministers after which he held joint press conference with Al-Jubeir.
“We should not ask the people of Mosul to make a choice between Shia militias and Daesh,” Cavusoglu said at a joint press conference held after the meeting.
“We should not force them to make choice between the two,” he added.
“The Iraqi army and other elements, of course, can provide any necessary support,” he asserted.
Al-Jubeir, for his part, warned against using the Hashd al-Shaabi — an umbrella group of pro-government Shia militias — in the upcoming liberation of Mosul.
“This sectarian, Iran-linked militia has caused problems and committed crimes in different parts of Iraq. If it enters Mosul, it could lead to catastrophe,” al-Jubeir said.
“If Iraq wants to confront the terrorism of Daesh and avert bloodshed and sectarianism, it would be better to use its national army and elements not associated with Iran and not known for their sectarianism and extremism,” the Saudi foreign minister added.
In a final statement issued by the GCC, concerns about the anticipated Mosul operation were again underlined.
In reference to the Hashd al-Shaabi’s possible participation in the upcoming Mosul campaign, the ministers’ said that the inclusion of sectarian militias in the operation “could trigger ethnic conflicts and jeopardize the operation’s success”.
In regard to the Syrian crisis, the statement called for a political solution that would ensure Syria’s stability and territorial integrity.
Expressing solidarity with the war-weary Syrian people, the statement called for the lifting of regime-imposed sieges on Syrian cities, a halt to the targeting of residential areas, and the release of political detainees.
The statement also expressed regret over the UN’s inability to stop the bombardment of civilian areas, urging the UN Security Council and the international community to take immediate steps to resolve the five-year-old conflict.
The statement also emphasized the independence, sovereignty and unity of Yemen, saying that any interference in the country’s internal affairs was “unacceptable”.
The statement also called for a “comprehensive, sustainable and fair” peace agreement that would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state, going on to describe Israel’s decades-long occupations of Palestinian land as “illegitimate” and an “obstacle to regional peace”.