Mehmet Ali Birand
We see that President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are trying to have good relations with Iran in general, and have the two countries closer. Yes, this is right. Turkey is favoring Iran and exerting special efforts for rapprochement. However, there is this nuclear side of the story.
Iran enhances its nuclear energy program. The western world believes this is not simply limited with nuclear energy policy. The West using Iran’s general approach, statements of its leaders and their track records asserts that Iran is actually trying to have nuclear arms. And concerns are spreading.
Israel and therefore the United States take the lead in such concerns. What is Turkey’s approach?
Again as we see from the outside Turkish leaders have sympathy for Iran in the nuclear issue. Conversations, photographs or TV images depict Turkish leaders arm-in-arm with their Iranian counterparts and hugging each other.
Mr. Prime Minister draws attention to Israel’s possession of nuclear arms instead of warning Iran, and brings nuclear disarmament of the region to the fore. He’s acting as if he is misleading. This is the perception of international community.
Therefore, the outside world is criticizing the Turkish government. The number of skeptics against Ankara’s approach to this particular subject is especially increasing in Israel and the U.S.
“If Erdoğan were to call Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinajad ‘my friend’ rather than ‘my brother,’ no one will be suspected. But that causes others to worry,” says a top-level officials at the U.S. State Dept. This is a typical example how the world sees Turkey-Iran relations.
All right, does Turkey really not care about Iran’s possession of nuclear arms? Is Turkey not buying the claims that Iran is having nuclear arms because it simply has faith in the Iranian leaders?
But Turkey seriously warns Iran
I agree with people who are disturbed by Turkey’s attitude toward Iran, which seems as if it supports the Iranian nuclear program.I don’t say that Iran has such intentions. I also accept remarks of the Iranian leaders. Still I have my reservations. History is full of similar examples that countries like Iran gave promises to do something but acted differently.
Now let’s forget about if Iran indeed has such intentions but look into “how and whom Iran could affect and if it becomes a nuclear power.” Official policy in Ankara is that Iran in no way should possess any nuclear power. And the main reason is that Iran in no way will be able to hit Israel because if Iran uses a possible nuclear bomb then Jerusalem will disappear. None of the Iranian leaders can push the button to wipe out one of the most sacred places of the Islamic world.
On the other hand, Iran may use this incredibly “deterrent” power in hand against other Sunni countries in the region. It will not hit Muslim countries but may try imposition as a country having nuclear power.
Sunni states in the region, primarily Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf countries, are frightened by Shiite expansionism of Iran. And Turkey is clearly disturbed by this too.
Perhaps Ankara doesn’t reflect anything outside but in official conversations openly warns Iran as a friend. This is what I’ve heard. I talked to sources who personally attended or are officially involved in such talks.
I was told that “Mr. Prime Minister and President Gül said told Iranian leaders, ‘If you want to have Ankara as your enemy, produce nuclear arms … We take your word. However, countries in the region are disturbed by developments, you should know this.'”
And Ankara has taken some actions, too. Top officials are cooperating with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf states against Shiite expansionism of Iran. Most of the talks in meetings revolve around this very subject.
I was relieved with this information I obtained. Still, I remember disappointments in the international arena, so I say let’s be prudent.