Former Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has called on Turkey to start a new policy in the region and assume a mediation role in talks with Iran to halt its activities in the Arab world.
Siniora, who was a prime minister between 2005 and 2009, was speaking during an online panel discussion themed "Changing Situation of the Middle East and the Prospects of Cooperation and Peace", organized on Tuesday by the Ankara-based Middle East Research Center (ORSAM) and moderated by its director, Prof. Ahmet Uysal.
Stating that the world was witnessing "trust deficit disorder," Siniora touched on the rising problems in the world, saying that "international resolutions are ignored and cooperation among countries is still more uncertain than ever."
Pointing out that multilateralism is "under fire," the former Lebanese premier said the world needs "commitment to rule-based order”.
Instability in the region encouraged some "regional and some global powers to use Arab countries as a battlefield" rather than engaging in cooperation, which gave "regional powers, including and especially Iran and Israel, a growing role in furthering the destabilization of the region by direct aggression or instigating internal conflicts”, Siniora said.
Siniora pointed out that Iran currently "pursues proxy warfare and direct interference in four Arab countries, namely Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen."
- Turkish mediation
On the other hand, Siniora said Turkey and the Arab world "are bound by mutual interests and common cultures and historical roots."
"The Arab region expects a positive and constructive role to be played by Turkey, particularly in Syria and Libya, on the basis of mutual respect," he said. "Turkey should make a very serious attempt to really start a new policy in the region."
Siniora went on to say that Turkey's new policy should start firstly by "mending relations with the Arab world" and secondly by "trying mediation with the Iranians, talking sense to them in order to create a new attitude". He warned that the current policy of Iran leads "nowhere" but "will end up in destroying each other."
He urged regional powers to work together and utilize their resources for their own good as "more and more pressure will be exercised by the superpowers and they are looking for battlefields to exercise new weapons and influence and we will be the fuel for that and nothing more, and after they end up destroying the region, they will lend us money to exercise their 21st century type of colonialism."
The Lebanese politician stressed that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan can play a mediation role in the region.
"I suggest that this is an attempt [of mediation] that should be made by President Erdogan, and I have great admiration for his leadership, policy and good intentions, and I think he has to make this attempt and I think he will be coronating his leadership with this work if it succeeded."
- Lebanese crisis
Regarding the situation in Lebanon, Siniora said "we are passing through extremely difficult times, we have the practical dominance of Iran," referring to the presence of the Shia Lebanese group of Hezbollah, which he said was established in 1992 with the aim to "drive the Israelis out of Lebanon."
However, he stated that after the Israeli withdrawal from the country in 2000, the group's mission turned to "serving the objective of Iran."
Drawing attention to the destabilizing role of Hezbollah with its weapons, Siniora said, "(Hezbollah) intervened in wars in Iraq, Syria and Libya, disrupting the chemistry of a country that stands on delicate balances like Lebanon. This has made Lebanon's relations with the Arab world problematic, which in the long run brought many problems with it."
He stressed that the group took control of Lebanon in 2008, and uses it as "a platform for intervention in the Arab world."
Hezbollah’s intervention grew after 2011 as the group "extended its influence and military intervention in Syria, Iraq and Libya and not only that, even in Kuwait and in many other countries", Siniora said, pointing out that Lebanon's relations with other Arab countries have been "distorted".
Siniora noted that Lebanon's problem can be resolved through unity and seeking the interest of the state instead of political groups as well as allowing statesmen to do their job for the country's good.