When Zero Problems With Neighbors Becomes Over The Top

March 28, 2012 § 5 Comments

This is a good example of where trying to make everybody happy is going to leave nobody happy. Erdoğan is in Iran today for meetings with Ahmadinejad and other Iranian government officials on the Iranian nuclear program and what to do about Syria. To begin with, the optics of this are just silly given that any knowledgeable Iran observer insists that the nuclear program and any real decisions pertaining to it are controlled by Khamenei and not by Ahmadinejad, so these meetings are likely a waste of Erdoğan’s time. More importantly, Erdoğan arrived in Tehran straight from South Korea, where he attended President Obama’s conference on nuclear security. It is possible that he is conveying a message from Obama to the Iranians, but if not it can’t be terribly reassuring to the U.S. that Erdoğan is running straight to Iran to brief them on whatever went on behind closed doors in Seoul. On the Syria issue, it also appears to be bad timing with the Friends of Syria conference beginning on Sunday in Istanbul in light of Iran’s support and bankrolling of Assad. I don’t think that anyone is under any illusions as to whether Iran is going to dump Assad over the side of the boat, and I guarantee you that Erdoğan and Ahmadinejad are not discussing the best way to set up a buffer zone, so why have these meetings now? I am all for diplomacy and think it will have a big place in resolving the Iran nuclear issue, but the timing of this feels very off to me. Why not wait until after the Friends of Syria conference, which might provide some more impetus to exert pressure on Iran? I understand that Turkey feels a vital need to maintain good relations with almost every state in the region, and it is part of what makes Turkey a valuable U.S. ally, but this is one time where trying to get everyone to like you is not going to yield any tangible benefits.

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§ 5 Responses to When Zero Problems With Neighbors Becomes Over The Top

  • yurt says:

    bad piece

  • Said says:

    Erdoğan is also scheduled to meet Khamenei after his meeting with Ahmadinejad. I’m certain that Turkish diplomats and policy makers are informed about rift between these two Iranian heavyweights and who is the victorious in their fight for political power.

    Erdoğan gives great importance to personal relationships in his domestic and foreign policies. Evidence for that is his appointments to bureaucracy whom he has formed great working relationships. On foreign front, Erdoğan’s relationship with Olmert was superb up until 2009 Israeli Gaza operation. The two worked tirelessly on improvement of Israeli-Syrian relationship in Erdoğan’s own home. When Assad ignored the suggestions made by Erdoğan on how to resolve Syrian crises and saw that Assad lied to him and Davutoglu on number of occasions, he cut all the heavily invested relationship that he had developed with Assad.

    I’m not suggesting that Erdoğan has enough influence to make Iranian leadership to change its position towards Syria, but I think he thinks, by being personally there right after Seoul Summit is a message to Iranian leadership on Syria and isolation of Iran because of its nuclear activities.

  • Thanks for the update about the meeting with Khamenei.
    I think you are undoubtedly correct that the PM places a large emphasis on personal relationships, and I read yesterday that Olmert recounted Erdoğan giving his grandchildren Hanukkah presents. As I wrote, I understand the need for him to maintain good relationships with everyone, and by doing so Turkey plays an important and vital role in the region’s diplomacy. Your last sentence gets to the heart of why I think he is making a mistake in this instance – the only way that sanctions and diplomacy are ever going to work on Iran is if they feel completely isolated with no other potential avenues to avoid a strike on their nuclear facilities, and by jetting to Tehran straight from Seoul, Erdoğan is sending the opposite message and letting the Iranians know that they are not isolated at all. To my mind, waiting would have been beneficial.

  • […] awfully glad this fellow, who calls himself OttomansandZionists, is blogging about politics. Someone has to, but I’m too busy writing about the dog I’m […]

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