Thursday, 27 December 2012

Iran Live Coverage: Tehran Picks A Fight Too Far with Turkey

0635 GMT: Over the last two days, Iranian officials have been beating a hasty retreat in their statements, one which points to a significant difficulty in Tehran's foreign policy.

Our story begins earlier this week when the regime tried to knock back --- in rhetoric and in diplomacy --- Turkey's placement of NATO Patriot anti-missile systems on the Syrian border. Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi warned of the consequences, but it was the head of Iran's armed forces, General Hassan Firouzabadi, who took the headlines with his declaration that the deployment would cause "a world war".

Ankara did not take the comments lightly. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan hit back with claims that Iran was being irresponsible and dangerous, pointing to Tehran's own supply of rockets. Last weekend, Minister of Interior Idris Naim Sahin lashed out on another front, accusing Iran of supporting the armed struggle of the Turkish Kurdish Workers Party (PKK).

Now the Islamic Republic had compounded its problems. The attack on the Patriot deployment had not budged anyone --- the anti-missile systems will be operational by late January --- and Iran's recent proclamation of its "six-point plan" only highlighted that it is on the diplomatic sidelines, as no one paid any attention.

Meanwhile, trade with Turkey is increasingly important as other markets are squeezed amid international sanctions. Ankara was even giving Iran a limited outlet from its falling oil exports, sending gold to Tehran to pay for natural gas.

So on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Ramin Mehmanparast raised a white flag in the rhetorical fight. He said that he saw absolutely no problem with Iran's co-operation with Turkey over the PKK and other threats on the border. 

Yesterday, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi followed up, proclaiming his disbelief that Turkey had made the claims about Iranian support for the PKK, “Relations between Iran and Turkey have always been based on respect and mutual trust and the repetition of such baseless claims is surprising.

Araqchi urged Turkish officials to refrain from making remarks that could harm "good relations". But that's not the immediate point.

Instead, the question is, "Will the Islamic Republic now refrain from making remarks about Turkey's approach to the Syrian conflict?"


from EA WorldView: EA Iran

Posted via email from lissping