Elliot Hen-Tov, a scholar of Turkish-Iranian relations [some poor bugger has to be I guess], thinks he knows why.
“Iran is not completely comfortable with Turkey,” said Elliot Hen-Tov. “It never will be.”
Hen-Tov says Iranian leaders are perplexed – even envious – that a country that was half as rich as Iran was years 30 ago, when the Islamic Revolution took place, is today twice as wealthy as the Islamic Republic.
Do I have to draw a diagram?
“To see a neighbor that really was a backwater, an underdeveloped authoritarian country now emerge as a model, as a leader, must be very frustrating,” he said. “And that impacts political relations at some point. Accepting Turkish leadership is just one step too far.”
In recent years, the political dynamic between Ankara and Tehran has been turned completely on its head.
Today, Turkey is a major political and economic force in the Middle East. It’s the 16th largest economy in the world and Iran looks to Ankara for economic benefits and cooperation.
Because they are broke and nobody likes them? I’d love to go to Iran. They’ve got loads of old stuff worth looking at and all that. But I’m not dropping my quids in a state where the religious police arrest store mannequins for inappropriate hijab. Because they are clearly mentalists.
Turkey has arbitrated an Israel-Syrian conflict; played a role in the political reconciliation of Lebanon; and is trying to bring together leaders of Syria and Saudi Arabia.
Well… Turkey is a firm Israeli Ally. Israel might have stuck a few noses out of joint in the Mid-East but that is nothing to what the Ottoman’s achieved over several hundred years. And it would appear that Ataturk’s legacy state is doing it again.
But by pursuing its current foreign policy strategy, Turkey is also taking on Iran’s mostly self-ascribed role as defender of the Muslim underdog.
Just last week, Ankara announced it is determined to develop an industrial zone in Palestinian territories despite opposition from Israel.
Last month’s Israeli attack on a Turkish-led aid flotilla to Gaza only helped crystallize Turkey’s role as the newest advocate for the Palestinians
“That role as the alleged defender of the “Mosta’Zaffin” – or the Oppressed – in the region and beyond, that is a role that Iran only partially fulfilled in the past,” said Hen-Tov. ‘It may have seen itself as the leader in its own Revolutionary discourse but it was basically the next best thing on the market….You now have a better alternative on the market. ”
Analysts say the Arab street hopes the more liberal Islam of Sunni Turkey can lead to solutions for persistent regional conflicts.
The shift means Middle Eastern players are relying less on the Islamic Republic for political backing.
Last month, Hamas refused Iran’s offer to provide an escort for their aid ship to Gaza following the flotilla attack, saying the Iranian assistance might only complicate the situation.
Right so Hamas, Hamas don’t even like Iran any more! Wow! I predict an Israeli air strike on the Iranian nuclear program and a lot of Arab air-defence controllers on gardening leave.
“Supporters of Iran or affiliates such as Hezbollah or Hamas, they quickly have picked up on the signal that Iranian influence is perhaps not as valuable as Turkish influence,” he said.
Surveys from a well-regarded polling organization in the U.S. also show that nearly half of Palestinians and 60 per cent of Lebanese have an unfavorable view of Iran.
Similar surveys show that the public in countries with large Muslim populations – including Turkey – lack the confidence Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can do the right thing regarding world affairs.
Gor Blimey! They really are Billy No Mates. Probably because the only thing between Iran and Israel is most of the Middle-East and the average Joe in that neck of the woods is pissed off with sabres being rattled over his head. Note also the average Joe round there is not a Sh’ite but a Sunni and not a Persian but an Arab.
Iran may have mixed feelings about Turkey’s rise but Ankara is firm in its resolve to prevent the likelihood of military action over its neighbor’s nuclear program.
That I don’t believe. Well I do but it’s all about trade isn’t it?
“It will be Turkey that will be hit hardest by the sanctions or use of force,” said Namik Tan. “If we are asked to bear the burden, we should also be given the chance to engage effective dialogue with Iran. We are right next to Iran, ladies and gentlemen, not 10,000 kilometers away, like yourselves living in this wonderful country.”
Yup, it’s trade and not principle. Would Turkey welcome a new regime in Tehran? I think so. But as it is Iran is Turkey’s number two gas supplier after Russia (being the Turkish energy minister must be a true hilarity).
Despite the envy Iranian leaders may feel towards Turkey’s growing regional influence, Tehran continues to view Turkey as an overall positive force.
Iran, after all, is Turkey’s second largest natural gas producer after Russia. And Turkey acts as a buffer on Iran’s border from the encroachment of Western NATO powers and to some extent Israel.
Hold on. Turkey is a NATO member of long standing. It was the Turks and the Greeks we relied on to hold the southern flank if the Russians kicked-off. I mean there was also Italy but yeah, right, whatever.
Overall – and I doubt the truth of this because of that final howler – Turkey eclipsing Iran is a good thing. The Turkish sort of CofE version of Islam is not the deranged lunacy that issues from Qom or Tehran. It’s more, “D’ya wanna buy a carpet?” than “Death to the Zionist-Crusaders!” (neatly ignoring the fact that at the time of the Crusades Jews were not exactly popular in Europe either). My mother was hounded in Istanbul in 1973 by Turkish tradesmen offering deals on rugs and spectacularly strong and sweet coffee. That can be annoying but it is not a jihad. Just a fella trying to make a living.
If a nation founded by a man who had this to say about the religion, “Islam is an absurd theology of an immoral Bedouin” can achieve ascendency in the Islamosphere then we are sitting pretty. He also likened Islam to being chained to a rotting corpse.
He was a class act was Ataturk.