carnegie logo

Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

« Previous | Babylon & Beyond Home | Next »

IRAN: Ahmadinejad, Turkish premier find common ground on nuclear issue


After months of diplomatic isolation following Iran's disputed presidential election and the subsequent violent government crackdown, President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad appears to have found a friend in Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan, who recently described Ahmedinejad as a "friend," arrived in Tehran on Tuesday with a delegation of more than 100 Turkish lawmakers and business leaders intent on strengthening trade relations between Turkey and Iran, which already amount to $11 billion annually. 

Iranian news agencies reported today that the two countries would sign a $4-billion deal giving Turkey access to Iran's rich natural gas fields.

In an interview published Monday, Erdogan told the Guardian that Turkey enjoys "very good relations" with Ahmedinejad, adding that he had no intention of "interfering" in Iranian domestic affairs by discussing allegations of government rape and torture of opposition protesters. 

He went on to support Iranian claims that its nuclear program is peaceful, slamming the U.S. and Europe for their alleged double standards toward Israel. Relations between Turkey and Israel have deteriorated dramatically since the Gaza war last winter, the most recent example coming just a few weeks ago when Turkey refused to engage in joint military exercises with Israel.

Ahmedinejad took the opportunity during Erdogan's visit to praise the Turkish premier's "clear stance toward the Zionist regime," saying, "when an illicit regime possesses nuclear arms, one cannot talk about depriving other nations from the peaceful nuclear program.

Erdogan's support for Iran appears to be based as much on economic pragmatism as on the West's stance toward Iran's nuclear ambitions. Others have speculated that Turkey, the former seat of the Ottoman Empire, is attempting to reassert itself as a regional powerhouse.

Although the Turkish government is nominally secular while Iran is an Islamic republic, the two countries have much to gain from closer relations. Iran needs diplomatic allies and foreign investment, and Turkey needs resources like natural gas and a larger market for its exports. Both countries struggle to balance matters of religion and state with security concerns while guarding against minority nationalist movements.

Erdogan's stance toward Israel and Iran has been firm but measured. Despite recent tensions, Turkey has worked hard over the years to maintain cordial relations with Israel, Iran and the Arab world, and even hosted secret negotiations between Syria and Israel over the Golan Heights last year.

Erdogan has avoided the hostile rhetoric favored by Ahmedinejad. According to BBC Monitoring, Erdogan told the Arabic news channel Al Jazeera on Sunday that Turkey prefers a "middle-of-the-road position" on major Middle East problems.

He went on to urge continued dialogue between Iran and the West, but added that it is "unfair and unacceptable for a state to have nuclear arms in the region, and yet be ignored, while emphasis is placed only on Iran," referring to Israel's unofficial but widely acknowledged nuclear arsenal.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad welcomes Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at his office in Tehran on Tuesday. Credit: Behrouz Mehri / AFP/Getty Images
Comments () | Archives (5)

1. Global aspect: Without nuclear weapons the people (including the allies, post-soviet union) would have a long time ago annihilated themselfes. only the nuclear weapons, and the fear of the nuclear weapons one's opponent has was the factor that kept the peace over the world since 1945.

2. Regional: do not compare Israel to Iran. The latter is a cripto-democracy, let us say dictature. Just listen to Ahmadinejad and check his methods out, insane and maniac as hitler.

3. Iran is still member (while Israel never was) of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. So president Ahmadinejad must follow the rules. (If he really wants to start his peaceful atomic program, but his behaviour are quite contradictorious.)

4. Israel never threatened Iran to annihilate.

Turkey has been isolated from its neighbors for along time. And, now we are trying to open relations with everybody. Including Armenia,Syria and Greece. You should write them, too. So nothing is wrong for having good relationship withe everybody.

To Iran's nuclear weapon search, you right, and Turkey does not want anybody to have nuclear weapons. But you also ask it from everybody, not only from Iran. While Israel has it, other countries in the Middle East also will have it. If you don't want one country to not have it, none should have it.
Think about it?????

Turkey getting closer to Iran.
Yes its right but the western world should evaluate the situation one more time.Western leaders Sarkosy and Merkel they say that Turkey can not be A Europan country because of that Turkey is looking for different harbours to approach nobady can blame Turkey as turning face to East.
Best regards

hideous play of hypocrisy:

Any prospect for a non-belligerent foreign policy toward Iran is not expected. The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday passed the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, a bill targeting Tehran and the firms conducting energy business with Iran. The recent bill, part of a larger effort to hurt Iranian people, was instigated to force Iran to abandon her nuclear enrichment program. Those who voted for the bill assumed that they were giving the Obama administration stronger powers to sanction companies that provide Iranian people gasoline, diesel and other refined petroleum fuels.

The bill would give a legitimate reason to Iran to fear US-France governments sincerity to fair play.

I suggest the following three steps to correct our failed foreign policy with respect to the Middle East:

1. Nuclear Fuel Cycle Iranian Consortium:
USA should join the consortium among others Japan, Germany, France and England to actively monitor the Iranian fuel cycle activity too. IAEA has consistently asserted that the agency could not find any indications that Iran is diverting the fuel cycle for nuclear bomb development. Iran has asserted that their activities are limited to development of fuel for nuclear reactor. The action of an international consortium in Iran for enrichment of nuclear fuel is to quell those who fear Iran may develop nuclear bomb. The other nuclear fuel cycle states, such as Japan, Brazil, and Germany, have not burdened themselves with joint operations with other nations.

2. Nuclear Shield
An international nuclear shield for all nations in the Middle East, including Iran, from nuclear bomb states;

3. A nuclear- bomb-free Middle East
This action will remove any pressure from Iran to develop nuclear bomb in the future for deterrence against nuclear bomb Israeli state.

President Harry Truman in 1946 gave this statement about nuclear bomb:

"It is a terrible weapon, and it should not be used on innocent men, women and children who have nothing whatever to do with this military aggression. That happens when it is used." He was referring to using the bomb on Japan.

Our representative in the Congress must stop the hideous play of hypocrisy and face the facts in the Middle East. Israel has the nuclear bombs, not Iran.

Turkey is putting pressure on the EU for entrance.
This temporary alliance is also an attempt to get some unity on the Kurdish Independence Movement which will occur when the oil revenues are locked up by the Kurdish politicians.
This slap in the face to the US and other Middle Eastern powers comes after Turkey agreed to a pipeline deal with Iran.But once the pipeline is complete it can be circumvented with ties to the new Russian-Azerbajan pipeline.Turkey holds the high cards in all three positions.


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

Recent News
Introducing World Now |  September 23, 2011, 8:48 am »



About the Contributors