“Despite rhetoric, Turkey’s regional ties could benefit Western interests”

“Despite rhetoric, Turkey’s regional ties could benefit Western interests”
October 29-31, 2009
     On a visit to Tehran, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan defended Iran’s nuclear program and criticized sanctions, fueling ongoing speculation that Turkey is “leaving the West”. However, Gulnur Aybet argues that Turkey’s improving relations with Iran are based not on Islamic identity politics but on the need to secure gas supplies for the Nabucco pipeline [previously covered here] (Today’s Zaman). Turkey hopes to increase its growing trade with Iran, China and Russia by switching to payments in national currencies instead of US dollars (Daily Star).
     The Christian Science Monitor’s editors, while giving credit to Ankara’s intention to act as a regional mediator, criticize its “emotional, populist condemning” of Israel in favor for stronger relations with “wily, autocratic Iran” (Christian Science Monitor). Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett praise Ankara’s regional diplomacy for its success over recent years, arguing that Ankara is serving Western interests better than Washington by seeking to ensure the success of the Nabucco pipeline. The Leveretts add that Jerusalem need Ankara’s support, not the other way around (Politico).
Today’s Zaman | Daily Star | Christian Science Monitor | Politico

Related posts:
“Turkey asserts independence from Israel, NATO”
“Nuclear-armed Iran, US missile defense could topple Turkey’s balancing act”

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2 Responses to ““Despite rhetoric, Turkey’s regional ties could benefit Western interests””


  1. 1 William deB. Mills November 2, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    In a Mideast region being ripped apart by greed, short-sightedness, arrogance, refusal to compromise, a growing addiction to violence, and the virtual absence of wise leadership, Turkey appears to see itself as the leader of a new moderate regional coalition. The U.S. should be deeply grateful that someone is attempting to articulate a moderate position that could actually provide a payoff to each side.

    Erdogan’s goal, assuming he is serious, is extremely challenging for neither the U.S.-Israeli war party nor the Iranians (nor, as a matter of fact, the Arab dictators) are in any mood to compromise yet. Nevertheless, both sides desperately need to compromise, so perhaps if he stays the course, he will eventually emerge the hero.

    Sometimes, it pays to listen to your friends.

    That’s my take (very abbreviated version) at the moment. Could be off base; one thing is certain – Turkey bears watching. Erdogan actually seems to have been persuaded by Obama’s fine rhetoric.

  2. 2 simonscentre November 5, 2009 at 7:07 am

    Turkey is definitely a state to watch in the Middle East.

    I have a personal interest in Japan’s foreign policy, and I’ve been thinking about some of the parallels between Tokyo’s position several years ago and Ankara’s current position in terms of their pursuits of large energy interests in Iran (the Azadegan oil field for Tokyo, Iranian gas supplies for Nabucco for Ankara). As US allies (both reliant to varying degrees on the US for military security) with strong economic ties with Iran, both have described themselves in similar ways (acting as a bridge, mediating, etc.).
    However, there are important differences that may allow Turkey to succeed (in securing its energy interests while promoting some level of regional stability) where Japan failed. I’m wondering if Ankara studied Tokyo’s efforts during the Azadegan negotiations. At the very least, I’m watching Turkey for lessons to apply to Japan’s future Middle East policy.

    -Kentaro Ide
    Managing Editor, Iran in the World

    (These views are mine alone and do not represent those of the Simons Centre for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Research)


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