Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refuses to take part in a coalition of Syria, Iran, Iraq and Russia against the so-called Islamic State.
President Erdogan made this known in an interview with Al Arabiya, which will be broadcast in full on December 27th. In response to the invitation to join the coalition, Erdogan told Russian President Vladimir Putin that he could not sit next to a president whose legitimacy is questionable. President Erdogan was referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose election in the midst of a civil war was deemed illegitimate by the United States, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the European Union.
Erdogan also noted that there were differences between Turkish and Iranian opinions about regional issues. He emphasized the dangers of “small plots that can split the Middle East region."
Tensions remain high between Moscow and Ankara following the downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber by a Turkish F-16 fighter near the Turkish-Syrian border on November 24th. Turkey has denied allegations from the Russian Defense Ministry that the downing of the bomber was orchestrated by Ankara.