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SEMİH İDİZ > Cracks appear in Turkey-Iran ties

Turkey and Iran are trying not to show it for practical reasons, but cracks have emerged in their ties due to regional developments.

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Turkey and Iran are trying not to show it for practical reasons, but cracks have emerged in their ties due to regional developments. Neither is it surprising that conspiracy theorists, of which there is no shortage in this country, should see a U.S. and Israeli hand behind all this.

The truth, however, is regional dynamics are behind the current state of affairs rather than any heinous plan worked out in Washington or Tel Aviv.

Thus the heady days when Ankara appeared to condone, if not support, Tehran’s nuclear program are gone. Prime Minister Erdoğan still says, when pressed, that it is hard to understand why Iran is being targeted when others in the region – meaning Israel – have nuclear weapons too. There is a basic dry logic to this of course that plays out well on the streets of Turkey and the Middle East.

But it is clear Turkey cannot afford to be dismissive of “worst case scenarios” and the possibility of a serious falling out with Tehran due to regional developments. Syria is the most apparent case in point. As far as the Mullah regime is concerned Turkey is acting at the behest of “the evil West” and agitating the opposition in Syria into armed rebellion.

Given Iran’s strategic reliance on Syria, it is clear that if and when the chips are down in earnest, Tehran will support Damascus and not Ankara, since the loss of Syria’s support would be a strategic disaster for Iran. This is why anger at Turkey is mounting among Iranian officials.

After Ankara’s decision to host the radar facilities for NATO’s – meaning Washington’s - “missile defense shield,” some of this anger has even gone “ballistic.” Ankara still insists this shield does not target Iran, but no one in Tehran is convinced. This is why Iran is now issuing blood curdling warnings to Turkey.
One such warning came recently from Iran’s “Aerospace Commander” Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh who said that in the event of any attack on his country, the first thing they would target would be the missile shield in Turkey. Trying not to show the crack in ties, Turkey appeared to “swallow” this threat. It has emerged through media reports, however, that Ankara had given a protest note to Tehran over Hajizadeh’s remarks.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Davutoğlu has reportedly told his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi, on the sidelines of an Organization of the Islamic Conference meeting in Jeddah a few days ago, the attack on the British Embassy in Tehran was unacceptable.

Having had its embassy and consulates attacked and its flag burned in Syria recently, Ankara is in no mood to condone such attacks. This position will no doubt increase the anger of radicals in Iran since Turkey appears again to be defending a “perfidious Western country,” in this case Britain.

When the growing Sunni-Shiite / Alevi conflict in the region is also factored in, it is clear that time will prove it is hard to gloss over the cracks that have appeared in Turkish-Iranian ties. In the 1990s Turkey was considered ripe territory by Iran for exporting its Islamic revolution.
After the advent of an apparently Iran-friendly “Islamist government” in Turkey, Iran’s expectations in this regard increased.

Now the same Mullah regime is angry that the same “Islamist government” in Turkey is promoting what they have hatefully labeled as “liberal Islam” and is trying to export it to the region and Iran. But what must anger Tehran the most presently is that the Arab masses, which it still hopes will spawn an Islamic revolution, appear to be looking more to Turkey than Iran for inspiration.

December/01/2011

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