Turkish belly-dancing to Persian santouri (II)

Turkish belly-dancing to Persian santouri (II)

After the usual smiles, exchange of pleasantries and good wishes during his January visit to Tehran, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said that “the rise of a Shiite Crescent could turn into an opportunity if Turkey and Iran enhance their dialogue,” inspiring “Turkish belly-dancing to Persian santouri” (this column, Jan. 11, 2012).

As I wrote then, the Turkish belly-dancing to Persian santouri was not new. If Mr. Davutoğlu’s statements on Turkish-Iranian friendship and fraternity over the past few years were compiled in a collection of political jokes, it would be a bestseller in the comedy books category (I strongly recommend a quick search to anyone who wants to have a big laugh). 

Just like it took Ankara several years to find out that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was a ruthless dictator, it has taken the Turkish foreign policy wizards even longer to see that their childish Iran policy could only cause thunder-like laughter behind closed doors in Tehran. Poor Iranians, they must still be laughing. But we can have our revenge! Send the few Iran op-eds published in the English-language pro-government press to Tehran and half the ruling elite there may suffer strokes after laughing their heads off. 

One columnist was happy that “now… the Turkish public and the higher echelons of the [Justice and Development Party - AKP] have begun to see Tehran’s true colors.” That’s wonderful news. I was personally expecting the higher echelons of the AKP to see the true Persian colors circa 2023. 

The author, one of the AKP’s brightest officials (in foreign policy) until last year, acknowledged that “we saved al-Assad from international isolation after the Hariri murder… We spent critical diplomatic capital voting against the Iran sanctions in the Security Council. Then the mantra was that Iran would open critical sectors of its economy to Turkey.” Which never happened, the author laments. Covering up murder and voting against sanctions over a matter as serious as nuclear weapons for a few contracts that didn’t even materialize? This, as the AKP calls it, is “our principled foreign policy.”

Another author accused Iran of being the world’s “number-one state sponsor of terrorism;” and the Hezbollah, once Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s beloved, as a proxy terrorist group sending assassination teams to several countries, including Turkey. These chaps are like alarm clocks that you set for 8:30 a.m. but ring at 1:30 p.m.!

But that columnist was confident the Turks would teach the mullahs a lesson. “Turkey is not the same country Iran used to deal with in the past,” he warned. “Turkey has learned how to dance with the Persians in a more effective way.”

I don’t know how one can dance in a more effective way, but I know Turkey is not dancing “with” Iran; as I wrote in January, Turkey has been belly-dancing “to” the Persian santouri. 

Another columnist apparently perceives diplomacy as something like personal relationships. He thinks Iran’s attitude toward Turkey is hypocritical (and, probably, he also thinks Turkey’s attitude to any other country is not hypocritical). I came as close to tears as one would when reading the final pages of a romance novel when he described the Turkish-Iranian relation as “unrequited love” on Turkey’s part. 

And why does he think the bad boys in Tehran did not reciprocate our pure love? Because they are jealous of our triumph in the competition for regional leadership. But wait a minute! Did we love the Iranians with pure love or did we pretend we loved them as we hid our intentions to triumph in regional rivalry? I guess I was lost at that confusing passage.

But my favorite was a line accusing Iran of having a regional agenda very much framed by a sectarian worldview. I wonder which powerful bond unites Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar against Syria (Iran). Their democratic credentials? 

Persians are not only good chess players, they can also excel in playing pulsing notes on the santouri – perfect for belly-dancing.