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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Iran v. Turkey?

Could a war between Iran and Turkey be in the offing? Consider this:
Erdogan’s recent policies suggest that he’s on the path toward making Turkey the leader of the Islamic world, especially in the Middle East—something Iran has been trying to do for the past 32 years. This reality is ultimately going to see them compete and clash over spheres of influence.

Between the two, Turkey has a bigger and more advanced economy. Its relations with the United States and EU are far better than those of Iran. So are its relations with Sunni countries as well as Shiite ones. As a consequence, improving relations with Turkey offers much better prospects and returns for many Middle Eastern countries and groups. And although they won’t break off relations with Iran, the increasing presence of Turkey is likely to come at a high cost for Tehran.

Iranians leaders will soon be looking for some kind of competitive advantage. With their economy in tatters and their country more isolated than before, becoming a nuclear armed country is likely to be the most attractive and convenient means for Iran’s Supreme Leader to gain an edge over the Turks.

Read it all.

There's much more on this from Lee Smith here.

Also consider this:
While most in the West seem to have overlooked this dynamic, Tehran has not. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used a regional summit meeting in Istanbul this month to deliver an inflammatory anti-Israel speech, yet it went virtually unnoticed among the chorus of international condemnations of Israel’s act. On June 12 Iran dispatched its own aid flotilla bound for Gaza, and offered to provide an escort by its Revolutionary Guards for other ships breaking the blockade.

Yet Hamas publicly rejected Iran’s escort proposal, and a new poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that 43 percent of Palestinians ranked Turkey as their No. 1 foreign supporter, as opposed to just 6 percent for Iran.

Turkey has a strong hand here. Many leading Arab intellectuals have fretted over being caught between Iran’s revolutionary Shiism and Saudi Arabia’s austere and politically ineffectual Wahhabism. They now hope that a more liberal and enlightened Turkish Sunni Islam — reminiscent of past Ottoman glory — can lead the Arab world out of its mire.

You can get a sense of just how attractive Turkey’s leadership is among the Arab masses by reading the flood of recent negative articles about Ankara in the government-owned newspapers of the Arab states. This coverage impugns Mr. Erdogan’s motives, claiming he is latching on to the Palestinian issue because he is weak domestically, and dismisses Turkey’s ability to bring leadership to this quintessential “Arab cause.” They reek of panic over a new rival.
Read the whole thing. There's change here. But as Lee Smith (the second article I linked) points out, most of it is the result of Turkey stepping into a vacuum created by the United States.


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