Is it Really Worth Losing Turkey?

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The developments taking place in Syria and Iraq indicate an ongoing redistribution of positions in the diplomatic field. Herein, the decisive moment is regarding who will head this process. Although the struggle for influence in Iraq between the US and Iran comes to the foreground, the current state of affairs shows that those days are over. Therefore, it is impossible to talk about the allegedly formed status-quo.

In this context, the latest developments in Basra demonstrate the onset of a new crisis, regarding the struggle for influence in Iraq where Iran has been declared as ‘persona non-grata’. Moreover, before the direct operation of the US in Iran, the parties want to defeat neighbouring states which are labelled as “resistance fronts”. It seems that such a scenario will soon be played out in Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan.

In fact, Iran is losing out at every location it considers itself as a winner. In this context, the “disillusion” of Iran in Aleppo during the culmination of the Syrian war can be considered as an important milestone for Iran’s losses.

The defeat of Iran in the region does not only carry geographical implications and could lead to dramatic consequences. Therefore, in an event of mishap; the revolutionary guards and regime entities will become targets, leading to a deep conflict in the country.

It goes without saying that another confrontation between the public and the government can directly lead to the regime change in Iran. Such development will provide the basis, primarily for the US-Israeli tandem and all states that are against the regime an opportunity to change the situation in Iran through political means.

Inappropriate Worries – Fatal Mistakes

The recent developments in Iranian foreign policy, especially the inconsistencies about Turkey, indicate that this concern has found a strong response within the regime’s base. This situation is provoking a severe damage to the credence restored between the two countries since 2016. Some of the regime’s concerns and fears are spearheading “wrong” reactions. (If this is a conscious reaction, it means that there is a traditional “Turkish reflex,” which makes the situation much worse).

Apparently, there is a fear of defeat at the heart of Iran’s insistence on the Idlib issue at the Tehran summit.  At this point, Iran sees Idlib as a “psychological turning point,” or a kind of “revenge address.” Thus, Iran wants to compensate for the loss of image in Aleppo, and also wants to cause obstacles for the possible transfer of control of Aleppo to another country.

At the third stage of the Astana summit in Tehran, Iran received Russia’s support against the ceasefire in Idlib in exchange for advance concessions, which is quite logical.

Under the fact that Iran has achieved the desired result at the Tehran Summit, rests two main concessions: the first being about the Caspian Sea and the latter is directly related to the south of Syria. Since the second half of the 1990s, Iran which kept acting against the equal division of the Caspian Sea has significantly abandoned this policy. Moreover, it has reacted positively to the demands of the US and Israel and withdrew from the south of Syria, upon the directive of Russia. Such facts have not escaped from Ankara’s attention.

Is Iran Driving Turkey towards the West?

The developments in Syria and Iraq require a deeper cooperation between the two countries, however, the real story is quite different. For the sake of short-term gains, long-term benefits are being negated. The dividends of Saudi-Qatar crisis and the 24 September referenda have a short shelf-life.

Iran, which has fully demonstrated that it has chosen Russia as its strategic partner and followed through its interests has forced Turkey to pursue a more balanced foreign policy. Turkey, after all, has the Ottoman experience.

In this regard, Ankara, on the one hand, is trying to maintain “the spirit of June 27” with Russia, and on the other hand, is seeking to prevent a new “November 24 crisis” in Syria. Ankara is aware that in an event of a new crisis the situation will not be limited to just the US / NATO. Therefore, this change of perception needs to be considered by relevant countries too.

Hereof, a very straightforward question comes to mind. Is Iran trying to alienate Turkey from Russia or strike a blow to the Turkish-Russian cooperation through such actions? If so, then does not this gesture play into the hands of the US / Israel?

Whoever Opposes Turkey will not only Yield the “Great Game”!

In the meantime, let us recall the fact that the course of the civil war in Syria has changed thanks to the joint actions of Turkey and Russia, rather than the Iranian-Russian cooperation. Similarly, the problems in Iraq and Qatar has been prevented due to the manoeuvres of Turkey.

These aspects are the underlying factors for the hassle between Turkey and the United States and the ensuing sanctions. Herein, Iran should also be considered as a factor. (In fact, this story can be extended up to the 2003 “March 1 resolution deadlock” between Turkey and the US, since the reason for this crisis was not only Iraq.)

Had Turkey, acceded to US policies toward Iran, a new picture would have been drawn today and Iran is cognizant of this fact.

In conclusion, it should be noted that the current policy of Iran (particular, in Syria) inflict a heavy blow to Turkey’s position against the West, particularly the United States. Hence it is worth reconsidering the recent shift of Turkish foreign policy within this context.

Prof. Mehmet Seyfettin EROL
President of ANKASAM