Iran and Turkey, from where to where…

Iran and Turkey, from where to where…

Iran is taking steps for moderation in domestic affairs and in diplomacy; it is taking steps toward opening to the West. Turkey’s image, on the other hand, is authoritarianism in domestic affairs and diplomatic shrinking in external affairs.

It is the government which should see objectively this picture before anybody else, without being overcome by domestic policy sentiment. It is because the correcting duty first of all falls on the shoulders of the government, while the gains obtained by correcting mistakes will be recorded positively on its own political record.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani came to power in August 2013 with a “moderation” slogan against the militant Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s domestically authoritarian and externally aggressive policies. The Persian word “itidal” means the same in Turkish, mildness. I also had written about it then and had wished “success to the esteemed Rouhani.”

In his inaugural speech on Aug. 4, 2013, Rouhani said, “Moderation should be present in every aspect of the country. I believe Iranians have always preferred moderation; they suffered from extremism and negligence.”

He also said change calls for moderation. Please notice change requires moderation. In his Sept. 25, 2013, U.N. General Assembly speech, he said, “Moderate approaches would ease the world.”  

Domestic moderation

Ahmadinejad was a civil engineer and a populist in politics. His speeches sent waves of enthusiasm among the crowd when he mentioned wiping Israel off the map; he was also known for his oppressive domestic policies. Rouhani on the other hand is a Shiite religious scholar; he is an “ayatollah.” His Glasgow Caledonian University PhD thesis was titled “The Flexibility of Sharia (Islamic Law).” That means it allows different interpretations and mentalities.

Rouhani removed the moral police that controlled women’s clothes. This issue was referred to the Interior Ministry and women’s choice of outfits was no longer considered a crime.

Rouhani himself took off his religious outfit and had pictures taken in sports clothes. He printed the photo of an Iranian mathematician, International Fields Award winning Meryem Mirzahani, without wearing a headscarf on his own website to prevent possible pressures.

Foreign policy

As well as making Iran more active in foreign politics, Rouhani also moderated relations with the West. His most important step was striking the nuclear deal with the “5+1 countries.” This development which made Israel and Saudi Arabia very angry was defined as a historic deal by U.S. President Barack Obama.

The New York Times wrote: “Over the long run, an agreement could make the Middle East safer and offer a path for Iran, the leading Shiite country, to rejoin the international community.”

 “Iran has succeeded in finding a ‘third way’ beyond fighting or surrendering,” Rouhani said, as quoted by The Financial Times.

And Turkey

Economist Kemal Derviş described the period between 2002 and 2007 as “the golden years of Turkey” in the economy. The West applauded then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his party while democrats in Turkey were supporting the government.

After the 2011 elections, authoritarianism, ideological practices, the language of argument and polarization prevailed. It was seen for the first time in world history that a government slapped its own Central Bank. Critics increased in the Western media and in the EU Progress Reports.

The “playmaker” Turkey during its successful times was replaced by a different Turkey, the old relationships of which were falling apart. In the U.N. voting, a member of the Security Council, Turkey, lost by Arab votes. In 2015, the growth rate is estimated to be 2 percent, down from 7 percent.

The Turkey which was issuing “EU harmonization laws” only yesterday is today looking for its new system in Uruguay, or in Mexico. As Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said, “In the third world, in the fourth world.”

Iran and Turkey, from where to where…