President Erdogan’s visit to Iran and emerging Turkey-Iran relations!

Even as it is losing intentional prestige and credibility as a real mediator for peace anywhere in the world, USA is committed to shield terrorist Israel by misusing its veto from any punishment international community at UN.

As the Turkish diplomatic profile taking a final shape in recent times, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Iran on October 04 to hold crucial talks with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on the outcome of the Iraqi Kurdish referendum and other regional security issues.

Part -1: Common challenges

Important visit

As USA is still considering further sanctions on Iran, Turkish and Iranian analysts agree that while Erdogan's visit is important for both countries but Ankara has much more at stake on its outcome than Tehran. Accordingly, Turkey could leverage its warming relations with Iran to put more pressure on the KRG to backtrack from its plan to declare an independent state.

Erdogan's visit to Tehran has been expected since August. But his original agenda focusing on military cooperation to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), and the establishment of a de-escalation zones in Syria, has since been overshadowed by a new regional crisis following the Kurdish referendum.   

Erdogan's visit to Tehran comes as Ankara continues to seek regional consensus on how to block efforts by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to split from Iraq - a move Turkey fears would have a domino effect on its own 15 million ethnic Kurdish populations.

Iran also has got similar apprehensions. 

Political relations between Iran and Turkey have continued steadily since the 1979 Islamic Revolution despite the existence of structural differences between them. It is worth mentioning though that their bilateral interests in maintaining regional stability and their commitment to containing and controlling Kurdish separatist movements in the Middle East, i.e. their security cooperation, are two other important factors contributing in the consolidation of their political relations. However, the contribution that economy has made to the two countries’ relations has been very huge.

From a military and security perspective, Erdogan's visit to Iran is very important, as Turkey considers more sanctions on the KRG and its regional capital Erbil, including the shutting of its borders.

In the last week following the Kurdish referendum, Turkey has held joint military exercises with Iraq. Separately, Iraq also announced joint military exercises with Iran. But so far, there have been no agreement reached on military exercises between Turkey and Iran.

The Turkish president stressed the need for joint and simultaneous actions by Iran, Turkey and Iraq on the issue of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Imam Sayyed Ali Khameni told visiting Turkish President Erdogan that the USA is seeking to create new ‘Israel’ in the Middle East through the Kurdish secession bid. The Leader warned that holding referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan is a betrayal of region and a threat to its future that will entail long-term repercussions for the neighboring states.

Recently, President Erdogan had told parliament members in Ankara that he expects to draw up an agreement with Iran, on how to respond to the KRG referendum. Erdogan dispatched Gen. Hulusi Akar, the military Chief of General Staff, to Tehran, the first ever visit for a top Turkish military official since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. At their meeting, Akar and Iran's military chief, Mohammed Hussein Bagheri, condemned the Kurdish referendum as unconstitutional. (In August, Bagheri became the first ever top military official of Iran to visit Ankara since 1979)  Akar also held separate talks with President Rouhani, who at the meeting warned that the deterioration of geographical boundaries, in the event of a KRG split from Iraq, would harm regional security and stability.  Akar said that Turkey and Iran, "will play an important role in the region's stability and peace with improving cooperation", following the Kurdish referendum.

Uneasy alliance

The terror war in Kabul launched by the USA following the Sept-11 hoax under NATO terror banner is still on and it has spread its poisonous tentacles  into other Muslim nations;  The foes of Islam are interested in killing more and more Muslims and loot the resources in Arab world, secure energy routes and other trade routes for the superpower USA.

Unfortunately, Islamic world is being controlled by economically, technologically and militarily advanced West where the rulers of Islamic nations keep their wealth for safety. .

Like in bilateral relations between any two Muslim nations, Iran and Turkey have conducted uneasy relations as each looked up to Uncle Sam for help and support. Experience taught a few lessons to both Istanbul and Tehran to  see through the hidden agenda of anti-Islamic world, led by USA, Israel and Germany and accordingly reset their policy towards the enemies of Islam.

After bad experience with its former military ally Israel, Turkey’s raising mode of diplomatic resources is tremendously good news for the people of the Middle East. The two remaining strong, independent, sovereign nations have united to stop the nefarious plans of Israel and their US supporters to further destabilize and Balkanize the region.

The strategy of disintegrating the regional countries is the US-Israeli plan to sustain Sunni-Shiite divide intact. Like Israel, there are many in Syria and Iraq, who simply do not fully trust Iran, and they do not trust Turkey at all; they fuel Saudi Arabia to fight Iran and think Erdogan is a ‘slippery customer’ who changed sides as it suited him and he rules Turkey with an iron fist.

The enemies of Islam pretend to be great democrats but worried about deficit of freedoms in Muslim nations and are annoyed that Erdogan did not allow the enemies of Islam in and outside Turkey to destabilize the Islamist nation in Europe and kill the leaders there, including President Erdogan and view the unsuccessful coup a lost opportunity to make Turkey anti-Islamic. They also made loud noise as the Erdogan government began acting swiftly against the coup plotters.

The ISIS project, like Taliban and Al Qaeda, belongs to Washington and the idea behind its introduction is to divide the West Asia. One of prime objectives of Sept-11 hoax had much to do with that.

Iran’s response to coup in Turkey

Turkey is a neighboring state where the coup plot happened. The whole establishment was too concerned.  President Erdogan and his government are strong partners of Iran. It’s not a secret anymore that Zarif, Shamkhani and Soleimani were executing higher orders. “Our nations enjoy strong brotherly ties, so it’s the least we can do to show solidarity and try to offer any help they might need in such critical times.”

In July Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was on the phone with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, whose government was under the threat of being overthrown by a military coup. Meanwhile, Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), was on another line with security officials in Ankara. All the while, Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, Iran’s regional military arm, was busy pursuing and reviewing various scenarios that might emerge.

Within hours after the coup attempt began late July 15, the SNSC convened to discuss developments in Turkey. Following the meeting, which was chaired by President Hassan Rouhani, Shamkhani publicly condemned the coup attempt, telling local media outlets, “We support Turkey’s legal government and oppose any type of coup — either initiated domestically or supported by foreign sides.” Shamkhani said, “What determined the fate of developments in Turkey were the will and presence of the Turkish nation and the vigilance of political parties, whose contribution thwarted this coup. Shamkhani concluded, “Our stance is not exclusive to Turkey either. We have pursued the same stance in Syria too. Our position toward all regional countries is that we always prefer people’s votes to decide governments rather than tribal, sectarian and hereditary governments, and this means democracy.”

A coup in Turkey with regional implications isn’t something Iran can tolerate. “It’s true that there are differences over Syria, and sometimes in Iraq. Yet the fact is that there is no direct problem between Iran and Turkey; on the contrary, bilateral relations are always advancing for the better. Besides, Iran is opposed to any kind of change by force, and especially when the government in question is democratically elected… The most important thing is that this experience of coup attempt might be an opportunity for Erdogan to understand the situation in neighboring Syria.”

Indeed, multiple Iranian officials, including Ali Akbar Velayati — foreign policy adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — brought up Syria in their condemnation of the coup attempt in Turkey. While condemning the coup, Velayati — a former foreign minister — said he hopes “the Turkish government will respect the views and votes of the Syrian people and allow them to decide their own government.” It was a clear message from Iran to Turkey regarding Syria and the future of the struggle in the region. For five years now, Iranian officials have on repeated occasions stated that they have been trying to engage the Turks on a path to address the situation in Syria, and while unsuccessful, have never given up on this approach.

The coup in Turkey brings Iran closer

Turkey is a major regional player. With an Islamic-oriented government in power in Ankara, bilateral relations have improved in the past decade, paving the way for common ground despite differences over regional developments. The latter has been possible thanks to Iranian-Turkish proximity in terms of grander objectives and also similarities in their ways of thinking.

The stability of the region would have been seriously threatened if the coup attempt had succeeded. Besides, there is the fear that such a move might trigger internal strife, weakening the state. Given the past five bloody years in the region, any such development in Turkey would shake the whole region” in addition to “Europe, Iran and the Caucasus.” Besides, the already shaken Arab countries following the Arab Spring, sponsored by Israel-USA-Germany trio, would face more troubles. What the various ethnic groups within Turkey might do when the enemies of Islam and Islamist Turkey were eager to create problems within?

The Iranian government reacted to the Coup in Turkey before any other government in the whole world and backed strongly the legitimate Turkish government.

Some conservative figures in Tehran have shown a different reaction toward development in Turkey, influenced mainly by the crisis in Syria. There was not a gap between the public and the government with respect to what was going on in Turkey. Many who oppose Islam and without any understanding of the region is influenced by the war in Syria think the fall of Erdogan would have been a positive development — not only in Iran but also in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. But such an argument has no validity.

It is important to bear in mind the other important reasons why Iran sees the security and stability of Turkey as pivotal to its own national security.  Indeed, at the height of the nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, Turkey played a vital role in easing the pressure on its eastern neighbor. Erdogan certainly paid the price for ignoring the direction from USA on US sanctions imposed on Iran though his “gold-for-oil scheme” — even while economic ties between the two countries greatly expanded in the sanctions era.

Reports suggest, Iran also played a role in directly thwarting the coup, for instance, by sharing intelligence that helped Erdogan preserve his reign. This vital intelligence tip helped President Erdogan to undertake quick measures to thwart the chances for repeats of the failed coup. He launched quick punitive measures ignoring the calls from USA and Germany, EU to be “democratic” and not to punish their plotters of coup. 

An Iranian official saw parallels between the successful coup against Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953 and the failed coup attempt in Turkey. “What we know is that this coup move was triggered by foreign hands. We went through the same in the past, and because Erdogan is today looking forward to playing a better role in the region, they want him down.” There was a message that was conveyed to Turkish security officials: This coup might be made up of several waves; it happened in Iran in 1953. When the first coup failed, they had another one ready — and they succeeded in Iran.”

However, a number of politicians and experts in Iran who work against Saudi-Iran ties and  have argued that Tehran should not react "too harshly" like Erdogan did in recent days as reaction to coup attempt.

Cooperation, sympathy, unified and serious political and economic decisions by Iran and Turkey regarding the move is very important.  Iranian spiritual leader Imam Khamenei said that Iran and Turkey should do everything possible to counter the coup issue and the Iraqi government should take decisions seriously and take measures to that effect.

The Leader Imam Khamenei stressed the need to enhance economic cooperation between these two countries, he stressed importance of cooperation between Tehran and Ankara regarding serious problems faced by the Islamic world from East Asia and Myanmar to North Africa. He described such cooperation as very significant and effective, saying it will benefit both nations as well as the Islamic world. “Unfortunately, despite numerous capacities, level of economic collaboration has not increased at all and more needs to be done in the field,” Imam Khamenei said.

The Leader expressed pleasure over Iran-Turkey cooperation in Astana talks and improving trend of Syrian issues as a result of the collaboration. But the issue of ISIL will not end this way; rather it requires a long-term actual plan.

So while, today on the face of it, this Turkey-Iran alliance against the Israeli-US agenda is a good thing, few in the Middle East will view it without strong suspicions, especially about Turkey’s role.

It is indeed a positive development that Iran and Turkey have identified their common foes and forged a solid foundation in regional unity that would be a model for all Arab nations as well.

 

Saudi-UAE-Egyptian axis

It looks as if the core Sunni alliance Saudi-UAE-Egyptian axis is trying to establish a new regional order targeting Iran and supported by the Trump government and Israel, and condoned by countries like Jordan. The logical part of this alliance is political Islam and they are also eager to rope in Islamist Turkey as well but Turkey has a larger goal in the WA region. Since they publicly announced their main enemy is Iran, Turkey stays away from any anti-Iran or anti-Islamic alliance. .

Turkey considers Tehran its trust worthy partner in containing Israeli criminal operations in Palestine, Arab world. Therefore, this new Saudi led regional order, if imposed, would be detrimental to Islam, to the legitimate interests of both regional powers and eventually work against the trio as well. But Riyadh is eager to gt SA attack Iran – a goal of Israel too and hence Saudi moves towards Israel. .

Saudi Arabia wants to oblige Washington by targeting Qatar. The most obvious manifestation of the trio struggle for regional order to be dominated by Riyadh was on full display during the latest Gulf crisis targeting Qatar.

Neither Iran nor Turkey regarded this crisis as an isolated confrontation between Qatar and the Gulf-Arab coalition. Both consider the Saudi move a dangerous twist against genuine interests of Islam and regional powers.

Turkey and Iran both opposed the Saudi-led block's moves against Qatar. In fact, during the initial phase of the crisis, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif paid a rare visit to Turkey to discuss, among other issues, what was happening in the Gulf.

Further, Iran and Turkey have decided to adopt joint mechanism to contain Zionist criminal designs. Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami said that Iran and Turkey, as two influential countries in the Mideast region, will stop new scenario of the Zionist regime of Israel and that protecting the regional countries’ territorial integrity is Iran’s principled policy.

The emergence of the Syrian Kurdish bloc led by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) as a major player in Syria has pushed Turkey to re-evaluate its Syrian policy. It has prioritized pushing back against the gains of the Syrian Kurds over regime change in Syria and this new strategy has become the thorniest issue in Turkish-American relations. Erdogan stressed the need for establishment of a powerful unity between Iran and Turkey in the region. “We managed to reach a conclusion during negotiations with the Iranian president on Syria and Iraq.”

Cooperation among Iran, Turkey and Iraq can be effective and helpful in establishing stability and security in the region and countering division seeking actions.  Iran attaches great importance to Turkey in its foreign policy.

 Kurdish ‘threat’

Two issues cause particular concern in Turkey and Iran: the perceived opacity of US policy and the political ambitions of the Kurds for a soverign nation.  Iran is anxiously awaiting whether the USA, coerced by Israel, economically powerful US Jewish community, will switch its regional policy from ISIL-first to Iran-first policy in the near future. Turkey is disturbed by the fact that it can't figure out the durability of USA for the Kurds in Syria and the end goal of this partnership in Syria.  

Both countries are also concerned about the overall aims of the US Syria policy especially with regard to Kurds. The prospect of Kurdish statehood in Iraq and of autonomy in Syria and the potential spillover effect these could have on the Kurdish population in Turkey and Iran generate much anxiety in both capitals.

US strategy is to divide the emerging Turkey-Iran equations and splitting the Arab world by using Israel that is ever ready to play its devastating role in west Asian crises. Both USA and Israel, killing the besieged Palestinians, including children and women, like wild owls, watch every move Arab leaders and Iran and take “precautionary steps” to keep them divided on a permanent basis.

Ahead of Erdogan's visit, the Turkish foreign ministry announced that it wants Baghdad to take over from the KRG the control of the border between Turkey and the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. On September 25, voters in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq voted overwhelmingly to back a split from Baghdad, setting off a regional crisis. Neighbouring Turkey and Iran, as well as Iraq's central government in Baghdad have opposed the referendum, and have threatened to impose sanctions on the KRG should it decide to go ahead with its decision to declare an independent state. The UN and the USA, have also opposed the Kurdish referendum, saying it would distract operations against ISIL, as well as the civil war in Syria.

Turkey has been in alignment with the Kurdish conservative nationalist current, whereas the Marxist-nationalist current led by the PKK has had working ties with Iran and its allies such as the Iraqi central government until recently. 

KRG is Turkey's largest trading partner next to Europe. Turkey stands to lose a lot more if its relations with Iraqi Kurdistan deteriorate. Last year trade between the two countries was estimated to be at least $7bn, and it is expected to increase to $14bn this year. That is why until now Turkey has not shut down the borders.

Within Iran, there are an estimated six to eight million ethnic Kurds, but there have been no significant separatist movement among the ethnic population within its own border. The KRG President Masoud Barzani was born in the Kurdish region of Iran. Iran has maintained longstanding relations with Iraqi Kurds, supporting Kurdish armed groups during the rule of the Shah before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. During the Iran-Iraq war, the Kurds sided with Iran against Saddam Hussein, and Iran opened its doors to the families of Kurdish leaders during that conflict. Saddam also targeted both the Iranian and the Kurds supposedly with chemical weapons.

However, Iran, too, is concerned with Kurdish political ambitions, particularly those of the Iraqi Kurds. The independence of Iraqi Kurdistan would diminish the status of Iraq - a Shia-majority country over which Iran has a significant level of influence - in terms of population, geography, hydrocarbon wealth, and water resources. An independent Iraqi Kurdistan is also likely to be closer to the West, Turkey, Israel, and arguably Gulf states than to Iran. Despite Iran's anxiety about PYD's expanding partnership with the USA and territorial control, it still keeps its cold peace with the group. The reflection of this policy is that Iran and the PKK's Iranian offshoot PJAK have kept the ceasefire they concluded in 2011. 

Kurdish statehood could also create plenty of domestic trouble for Iran. The ties of the Iranian Kurdish population and parties with their Iraqi Kurdish brethren are more solid than those with Turkish Kurds. Most Iranian Kurdish parties have deep historical ties with the Iraqi Kurdish parties. In fact, the leadership of the Iranian Kurdish parties, Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDP-I) and the left-wing Komala are active in Iraqi Kurdistan. These shared concerns don't translate into shared interests in Turkish-Iranian relations.

Although Turkey and Iran are worried about Kurdish statehood, Turkey's interests lie in minimizing the PKK-PYD threat, while the political projections of Iraq's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) are rather tolerable (even if Ankara opposes its latest push for independence, it is still much less of a threat than an autonomous pro-PKK body in northern Syria).

For Iran, it is the opposite: The break-off of Iraqi Kurdistan bodes ill for its policies in Iraq and it would do anything to prevent it; the PKK and PYD's presence in Syria and Iraq, however, is no more than a nuisance.

Apart from the Kurdish issue in Iraq, Iran and Turkey have other diverging interests. Ankara has been disturbed by the twin processes of the centralization and sectarianization of the Iraqi state. In principle, Ankara supports the strengthening of the central government in order to curb the irredentist aspirations of Iraqi Kurdistan, but this could mean the domination of sectarian politics as the Shia groups retain more state power - a trend already in place in the country's security architecture.

This process was in full force under the pro-Iranian premiership of Nouri al-Maliki between 2006 and 2014 and his policies were arguably largely supported by Iran. Tehran now also supports the Iraqi central government's sectarian policies and use of Shia militias in the areas that have been cleared from ISIL. This runs the risk of further aggravating Turkey's allies in Iraq - the Iraqi Sunnis and the KDP. Ankara and Tehran have divergent interest in Syria as well. Although Turkey has stopped calling for regime change in Damascus, it is still not in a position to condone the total elimination of the opposition. Like the regime, Iran seems to favour inflicting as much destruction on the opposition as possible. At the same time, it is striving to convince Turkey to open channels with the regime, using the Syrian Kurdish territorial expansion as a pretext.

Developments in the West Asian region during the past years have served the interests of the Zionist regime and harmed the world of Islam and have marginalized the issue of Palestine.

Arab world depends too much on the support USA that is visibly n a permanent war on Islam with Islamic world, Muslims for their lives and resources. Now Trump, who gets tips from his Jewish son in law on foreign policy, seems to have forces Saudi Arabia to “listen” to Israel as well. Saudi Arabia is under illusion about US support for Sunni led Islamic world.

Some common concerns have recently emerged between Turkey and Iran, which has facilitated the recent thaw in relations. Two factors have been particularly important. First, the struggle to establish a post-Arab Spring regional order has generated anxiety in both Ankara and Tehran. Second, the struggle for the post-‘Arab Spring’ regional order as per the wishes of Saudi kingdom has coincided with the post-ISIL futures of Iraq and Syria.

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