29 November 2013

Iran and Turkey: united for regional stability? Yeah, now pull another one.

This news makes the saying "politics makes strange bedfellows" wither and die of terminal impotence. What we are witnessing here is two sworn enemies jumping into bed, singing hosannas to each other and to the anticipated joys of the yet unconsummated marriage.

What could be as mindboggling as the fact that Turkey, whose leader for years rains fire and brimstone (verbal only, it's true) at its neighbor Syria and, by extension, at its main supporter, Iran, has suddenly changed the tune to this:
Enhanced cooperation between Turkey and Iran would improve regional stability, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on a visit to Tehran.
And what could be more hypocritical than this:
“Turkey has been pursuing a constant foreign policy in the last 10 years. It is true that we have some differences with neighboring countries, but the tenets of our foreign policy have not changed,” Davutoglu said at a press conference with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Of course, to those what would like to see the reasons for such sudden blossoming of love, there are some excuses:
On Tuesday, Turkish Hurriyet Daily News quoted Davutoglu as saying: “In my point of view, when Turkey and Iran join hands, this will not only benefit both countries, but also become the backbone of regional stability.”

The Turkish foreign minister also called for greater energy cooperation between the two countries. “Turkey’s annual energy demand is $60 billion. Turkey is a corridor country, Iran is a producer country. If we fuse both potentials, Turkey could become the corridor of energy provider Iran,” he said.
But the true reason is out for all to see:
Turkey, like other Sunni countries, is anxious about Iran’s nuclear program and is likely unhappy over the US-Iran nuclear deal.

“Ankara will view a US-Iran nuclear deal, coupled with a negotiated settlement in Syria, as Washington turning a blind eye to Iran creating a Shi’ite axis along Turkey’s southern border,” wrote Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, in an article in The New York Times.
Sure thing. Continuously rejected by Europe, Ankara now sees the American back turning from Iran to Turkey (and other hitherto loyal partners in the region), and if you cannot beat them, well, you know what to do.
“A US-Iran deal has, however, taught the Turks the following lesson: Do not put all your eggs into America’s basket. This explains Ankara’s recent decision to buy Chinese weapons, in anticipation of a US-Iran deal,” Cagaptay said. Turkey probably will look more to the Russians and Chinese for security cooperation, though it will also continue ties with the US, he said.
And it's difficult to blame Turkey - they, like some other states in the region, realized that Washington of today is a fickle mistress.

And too bad for those who still haven't grokked this.