The impression we got was that our state was not expecting such a move by the Syrian Kurds, Barzani and so on. Of course, they deny this and say they have known everything and have had plans for every possibility. But this does not explain both our state’s and the media’s Turkish nationalist reaction against the Kurdish activities in Northern Syria. After initial harsh reactions, discovering that we were losing the hearts and minds of both Turkey’s and Syria’s Kurds, we modified our harsh rhetoric and underlined that we would be happy with Kurds having rights but are against the activities of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Northern Syria. If you are misunderstood, you must first blame yourself and check your rhetoric. If you knew everything, why did not you invite and inform the media about the probabilities and warn them against emotional and harmful reactions? It seems we are having a similar case with regards to Iran, too.
When we, as analysts, warned our politicians repeatedly about Iran, we were blamed of being under the influence of the US, Israel, the West, NATO, etc. The reaction was always from the other extreme of the spectrum: You want Turkey to have a war with Iran. It is like Nasreddin Hoca’s wise joke: When reminded about troubles of summers and winters, Hoca replies that nothing is wrong with spring and fall. As analysts, we were not asking the government to wage a war against Iran but were simply questioning if it was worth giving the impression that Turkey was an advocate of Iran’s elusive nuclear ambitions and adventures to the detriment of our relations with the West. Our proactive pro-Iranian stance -- coupled with the tension with terrorist Israel -- culminated in pressuring Turkey that it had to prove there was no axis shift. Thus, Turkey had to accept the NATO missile shield in Kurecik, Malatya.
I love utopias but know we need to take into account the reality and work within given parameters. Thus, I do not think there is a better alternative to NATO at the moment and I think the Kurecik decision was a right one. What I am saying is that with the Kurecik decision, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) betrayed its own pro-Iranian and to a certain extent anti-Western foreign policy. In other words, they have come to our line of being cautious against Iran. Nevertheless, we must ask: at what cost? Iranians are now angrier with Turkey than they were 10 years ago since they justifiably take the Kurecik decision personally! Our politicians keep repeating that Iran’s name is not mentioned in the Kurecik documents, but as far as I know no other country name is mentioned, either. So, why do we have it? It is of course for defense, but this shows that you no longer trust the Iranians and perceive it as a threat. I could not agree more. There are no permanent friends in the internal arena.
Now, in addition to the Kurecik decision, Iran’s open and staunch support for the Assad regime’s cruel terrorist massacres is paving the way for increasing tension between Turkey and Iran. Similar to what happened with Ehud Olmert and Bashar al-Assad, our politicians are again taking it personally, are emotional and give harsher reactions than normally expected. Turkey was right to be upset with Israel’s terrorism and is right to be upset with Assad’s massacres. Yet, big states know how to control the tension and do not allow tension to control them. When you react very aggressively but then discover that you do not have means to implement your rhetoric, your credibility will be irrevocably tarnished. To recover this, you may need to take a radical but not a very calculated step, like the Kurecik one, creating more problems.
To cut a long story short, it is better late than never and it is good that our politicians have now finally “discovered” Islamist Iran’s hybrid Persian-Shia nationalism. However, this disappointment does not lead us to a war or increased uncontrollable tension with Iran. Neighbors do not have to be in love or hate relationship. What is wrong with spring or fall for that matter?