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Iran-Turkey rift still under control 6 avril 2012

Posted by Acturca in Energy / Energie, Middle East / Moyen Orient, Turkey / Turquie.
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Gulf News (UAE) April 6, 2012, p. 12

By Jumana Al Tamimi, Dubai

Problem not at highest level — analysts. Differences in the approaches of both Ankara and Tehran towards several issues in the region, including Syria and Iraq, have already started heating up bilateral relations, a fact that was revealed with the recent statements and actions of officials in both countries.
However, many analysts believe the opposition to each other’s actions is still a « controlled » one and has not touched the highest level in both countries.

“Behind the scenes, each is giving the message that I know what you are doing in the region” Hassan Ozertem, a researcher at Ankara-based USAK centre for Middle Eastern and African Research

Recent statements, mainly related to the situation in Syria and the venue of upcoming nuclear talks between Iran and the Western powers, initially expected to be held in Istanbul before Tehran puts forwards other options, actually reflect exiting « problems » between the two.
But, Hassan Ozertem, a researcher at Ankara-based USAK centre for Middle Eastern and African Research, noted that these problems were still within a « controlled crisis policy », and had not reached the brink.

« Behind the scenes, each is giving the message that I know what you are doing in the region, » Ozertem told Gulf News.
On Wednesday, the Turkish Foreign ministry summoned the Iranian Ambassador over remarks by a top official in Tehran denouncing an international conference on Syria held in Istanbul earlier last week.

« We summoned [the] Iranian envoy today to demand an explanation on the remarks, » Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a press conference, without specifically naming the Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani, who criticised Ankara for hosting the « Friends of Syria » Conference.
‘Harshly criticised’

The move coincided with Iranian and Iraqi statements that Tehran prefers to hold its upcoming nuclear talks with Western powers in Baghdad and not Turkey. The talks were initially scheduled to take place after nearly a week.
Turkey has harshly criticised the regime of Bashar Al Assad and the way it handles the protests. It supports a « smooth transition of power » in Syria. However, Iran has shown its support to the Al Assad’s regime, accusing foreign powers of orchestrating instability in its only Arab ally.
‘No Pandora’s box’

Ankara, which has also criticised the policies of the Iraqi Government’s Nouri Al Maliki, accusing him of cultivating sectarian strife in the country, has a growing role in the affairs of the Middle East. It played a role in easing the western concerns over Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme.
The venue of the nuclear talks is not important, « what is important is for the talks to be held, » said Ozertem.
« Turkey tries to smooth western policies towards Iran. It wants a stable Middle East region and it doesn’t want a Pandora’s box to be opened and another crisis to happen in Iran, which will bring a [wide area of] geography…a total disaster, » he added.
But Iran, on the other hand seems not to be comfortable with the Turkish role, mainly in Syria and Iraq, and is concerned with Nato plans to place a missile shield against medium-range missiles in Turkey. Moreover, Ankara’s statements related to secularism and democracy seemed to have been met with cautious reaction.
« Iran is not happy with the role that Turkey plays regarding its alliance with the west and western values, » added Ozertem.


Price of friendship

On the bilateral level, some problems still need to be solved, including the high price of the Iranian natural gas Turkey is buying compared to the discounted rate of Russian gas and the « favourable » price from Azerbaijan that Turkey has.
Iran, which is under western economic sanctions, has not responded positively to Turkey’s request to have a discounted rate for the natural gas it buys, especially with the price fall of natural gas in the West. Turkey gets a discounted rate for its imports from Iranian oil.
Turkey buys nearly nine million tones of Iranian oil a year, and nearly seven billion cubic metres of Iranian natural gas.
Yet, the differences are still under control, and neither government in Tehran and Ankara, according to political analysts in both countries, look to be seeking an escalation at present.



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