Ankara and Tehran: An Unhappy Ending avril 15, 2012Posted by Acturca in Moyen Orient, Turquie.
Tags: Iran, Middle East, Turkey, Turquie
Dar Al Hayat (Lebanon) Sunday April 15, 2012, p. 11
Much water has flowed under the bridge of Turkish-Iranian relations since the eruption of the Syrian crisis. The two major poles in the region, who had been wagering on strong relations they could forge between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the first Islamist political party to come to power in Ankara since the Republic of Turkey was established, have failed to preserve the improvement that had occurred in these relations after the massive tremor caused by the Syrian uprising for alliances between countries in the region, as well as the resulting repercussions on relations already in crisis between the various sectarian identities in the societies of those countries.
Ankara and Tehran’s relations managed to sail calmly through the storm produced by the US invasion of Iraq. The Turkish state’s affiliation to NATO did not prevent Recep Tayyip Erdogan from saying no to US troops who sought passage through Turkish soil to the occupied country. Furthermore, the appreciation enjoyed by the Turkish Prime Minister in the eyes of the "defiant" was increased by his stances on Israel’s hostile practices, whether during the war on Lebanon in 2006, or in his stance on the war on the Gaza Strip at the end of 2008. Ankara was at that time the capital one would point to as a symbol of strength and pride in the face of the United States. Indeed, it was the NATO member-state that could at the same time challenge US interests and deal with Europe and the West in general on an equal footing – this in addition to being a country able to stand up to Israel’s arrogance, as shown by the confrontation between the two countries on the issue of the "Freedom Flotilla".
Yet all of this was before the turnaround that took place in the alliances of blocs in the region, driving Turkey to one side and Iran to the other. And it is no longer difficult to show the sectarian nature of these new alliances, nor to follow their steps, which acutely express contradictions and disagreements, as shown by Iranian threats to the Gulf region. The most recent display of defiance was the visit made by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the island of Abu Musa, disputed with the UAE, the first by an Iranian President. Such a situation is further confirmed by the escalatory response of Arab Gulf states to Iranian interference in their affairs, as well as to the acts of violence perpetrated by the Syrian regime.
The Syrian crisis came as a true test of how wide the gap of contradiction was between, one the one hand, the Turkish government, an Islamist government, of course, but one ruling by the force of ballot boxes and of abiding by the will of the people; and, on the other, the regimes and movements of "defiance", run by the Iranian regime, who rule by the force of slogans and of making light of the rights and demands of their nations. This contradiction is what has taken to gradually driving Ankara towards defending its government’s democratic principles in the face of the excess shown by Syrian authorities in repressing the demands of Syrian protesters. This is what Turkish officials have expressed on several occasions by saying that they could not support a regime that does what the Damascus regime is doing to its own citizens. This contradiction of principle has brought the Turkish stance to a point of complete severance with the Syrian regime, in spite of past strong relations. The matter has even reached a point where Ankara is threatening to demand NATO protection for its borders, in the face of recent Syrian breaches, and despite the negative aspects that had previously characterized Turkey’s relations with NATO.
On the background of such a climate, talks are being held today in Istanbul regarding the Iranian nuclear issue, talks which Tehran had called for moving to a different capital (mentioning Baghdad as an example), in a frank response to Ankara’s stances. This is what Erdogan responded to, accusing Tehran of procrastinating and lacking good faith, adding that "this is not the language of diplomacy (…) this language does not suit me".
It would not be difficult, in such a climate, to predict the failure of these talks, not just because of the location chosen to hold them, but also because Iran, and in spite of the economic sanctions it is being subjected to, does not have the option of making concessions in an issue that has become a major asset in negotiating with the West over its role and influence in the region.