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17 April 2014, Thursday
 
 
Today's Zaman
 
 
 
 
COLUMNISTS 21 March 2012, Wednesday 16 0
0
LALE KEMAL
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LALE KEMAL

Erdoğan to Obama: You left Iraq in Iran's hands

An advisor to a senior Turkish state official quoted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as telling US President Barack Obama following the US withdrawal of troops from Iraq in late December of last year that “you [US] left Iraq in the hands of Iran once you withdrew.”

In other words, Erdoğan was reflecting his displeasure over Iran's influence in Iraq growing after the US withdrew its troops from the country. This anecdote the advisor shared with me also hints at a divergence of opinion between Prime Minister Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, the architect of Ankara's controversial policy on Iran.

In an earlier column published on Nov. 16 of last year, I argued that Turkey's current policy on Iran, which can be summarized as being too supportive of this country against, for example, international pressure exerted on Tehran over its alleged nuclear arms development policy, is problematic from several perspectives.

In the same column, I said Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız reportedly ran out of patience during a Cabinet meeting in which he complained about Iran, accusing the country of being unappreciative of Turkey's gestures, and allegedly criticized Davutoğlu over his handling of the Tehran regime.

Yıldız, who has long been uneasy over Iran's policy of charging too much on gas that it has been supplying to Turkey, announced on March 14 that Turkey has decided to take this country to an international court of arbitration over the price of Iranian natural gas as Tehran refused to offer a discount.

“The price paid for gas imports from Iran is above international prices,” Yıldız stated.

Turkey imports 10 billion cubic meters of gas each year from Iran, making it Turkey's second-biggest supplier after Russia.

However, Yıldız ruled out that Turkey's decision to take Iran to court will have a negative impact on relations in general between the two countries.

I am now told by an advisor of a senior state official that Prime Minister Erdoğan also does not see eye-to-eye with Davutoğlu when it comes to Iran. Erdoğan's unease with Tehran, according to the advisor, became more explicit after Turkey voted in 2010 against sanctions imposed by the United Nations on Iran over its alleged nuclear arms development plans, raising questions about whether Turkey had become the weakest link in NATO by siding with Tehran.

Erdoğan allegedly wished for Turkey to cast an absentee vote instead of a veto against sanctions on Iran. But Davutoğlu's desire for a veto trumped Erdoğan's absentee vote choice. Erdoğan allegedly mistrusts Iran in general and is not happy with Iran's influence in Iraq and Syria, or the Assad regime.

Turkey has already written off Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, once a good friend of Ankara, since he ordered his military to crack down on the opposition.

The majority of Turkey's population is Sunni, while Iran's is Shiite. This sectarian split widened since the start of conflicts in the Middle East last year as uprisings by the people against their autocratic regimes continued in a number of countries in the region.

Ankara, meanwhile, believes that Iran has been behind a recent deterioration of relations between Turkey and Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite and close to Iran, harshly criticized Turkey on Jan. 14 for what he termed was its “surprise interference” in his country's internal affair, claiming that Turkey's role could bring disaster and civil war to the region -- something Turkey will itself suffer. Ankara believes Iran motivated Maliki to make his critical remarks about Turkey which, diplomatic sources say, are baseless.

At the moment, Turkish-Iraqi relations are quite bad, some Turkish diplomatic sources admit.

Foreign Minister Davutoğlu is also aware of Iran's animosity toward Ankara. However, he still sticks to a policy of dialogue with Tehran, sometimes at the expense of angering Erdoğan and a number of other ministers.

COMMENTS
What I will add is the result would have been the same with a withdrawal, it is just the time frame that would occur. It was made clear to Iran regardless of violence the US would not be putting US troops back on the street. They tried but where limit in the level of violence due to invest from the ...
Matt
That is just not true and leaving a small residual force in country would make no difference. The Pan Shiite State was created as soon as the decision to invade in 2003 occurred. The people that want him to keep troops in were the ones that want hand the country to Iran in the first place. In many w...
Matt
Turkey as in WWI, in WWII sided with Germany and only the day before Germany surrendered, declared war on Germany. Hence rewriting their history that they sided with the victorious allies. In ’91 and again in ’03 Iraqi conflicts they did not let the US use Turkish facilities to begin with but later ...
Uncle Billy
Dr. Davutoğlu is an honourable figure, however he has shown what he can do as FM, and it is time Mr. Erdoğan picks up his successor who clears the regional mess and salvage Turkey's regional strategic interests.
Omar
While attempting to explain and or justify the reason(s) responsible behind the permanent souring of Turkey's relationship with the ayatollah's theocratic, backward and rogue state of Iran, Ms. Kemal totally chose not to mention and or ignore the crux of the matter, effect(s) the US-NATO missile rad...
Thessalonian
GENERAL SHERMAN I actually agree with one of your points, BUT the religious leaders of Iran do believe that they have God on their side and wouldn't look at history as their guide unless it is in the Quran.
Me
Turkey could have been a bigger player in establishing security in Iraq and limiting Iranian influence, but they sat on the sidelines from 2003 until 2010. Now they are blaming the USA for leaving the vacuum they declined to fill.
Chico
You can't have it both ways, the only way to limit Iran influence is to deal with the Iranian problem directly. The SOFA out by 2012, you can't bomb Iran while stuck in Iraq. If you don't deal with Iran, they will influence and control Iraq after you leave. The US military wanted to stay in Iraq as ...
Matt
You can't have it both ways! Nobody on this site supported the USA's involvement in Iraq. Even Erdogan closed off our bases to us during the invasion, and the *** you know as Obama was only interested in pleasing the people who voted for his *** by withdrawing the troops. I predicted that the fig...
Me
May be Iranian not to need to care about Esfandyar thinking ,But Generalshirman does::))
Esfandyar
It can not be right that there is tension between Turkey and Iran and Turkey and Iraq (and Syria). We have a zero problem policy with all our neighbours, so we are getting along very well in a big brotherly familly. No worries.
We are all happy
Esfandyar, first, I don't think the Iranians care what some kurd thinks. Second, I think they know better than to pick a fight with Turkiye considering the results of the Battle of Chaldiran.
GeneralSherman
Esfandyar, first, I don't think the Iranians care what some kurd thinks. Second, I think they know better than to pick a fight with Turkiye considering the results of the Battle of Chaldiran.
GeneralSherman
Addadom : and if ever USA be saved from Khurasanies ( afghanistan ) freedom fighter clouts ,it will be with help of Iran. Iran is saving American life and saving America from desastrous bankrupcy..
Esfandyar
FM Davutoglu is a collosal failure on all fronts, it's hardly surprising that other Turkish leaders are getting fed up with him. His ego isn't matched by his deeds, far from it.
Christoph
I can not believe it , Without Iran USA will be still fighting and getting killed in Iraq. Turkish assumption is Iraq a US property therefore should not be handed to Iran..turks should see psychologist ,you folks make Israeli look smart and reasonable people Solution Iran ...
Esfandyar
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