A Turkish newspaper discussing the conflict emerging with Syria has urged restraint to avoid confrontation with Iran.
Yeni Safak said: ‘Have you realised that Tehran’s statements directed at Turkey have gotten noticeably more hard-line recently?
‘Tehran has considerably altered its usual attentive attitude that observes balances and has begun using threatening language from time to time. It has opted to make these expressions heard not directly but through officials who have no say in this field.
‘This can be a Revolutionary Guards commander or a member of parliament. While it did not hesitate to say that the US/NATO missile shield being deployed in Turkey could be targeted it climbed down and tried to rectify matters when it received a strong rebuttal.
‘From its “different” approach to the Syria issue through to the nuclear talks, from its position on the implementation of the US embargo through to the attitude of Al-Maliki’s administration in Baghdad, the division between both countries is making itself felt.
‘Most recently, there was Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Tehran and his meeting with Mahmud Ahmedinejad and religious leader Ali Khamenei.
‘The aim was to draw both countries closer together on those topics where they “differed” but this did not happen.
‘Tehran’s attitude seemingly worsened after the visit and it has begun distancing itself from Turkey.
‘With the exception of reducing its natural gas imports from Iran by 20 per cent and becoming the lead player in the transformation taking place in Syria, Turkey has always given its full support to Iran’s nuclear issue at international platforms.
‘It has pointed out that every country has the right to nuclear technology and nuclear energy, and it drew attention to the dual standards being applied by the nuclear club.
‘Most recently, an agreement was made with the “P5+1” countries to have the negotiations held in Istanbul.
‘The meeting, scheduled for 13 April, was approved by Iran’s Foreign Ministry. Furthermore, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the talks were going to take place in Istanbul.
‘However, a few days later very different voices began being raised in Tehran. Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Tehran wanted the talks to take place in Iraq.
‘If this is true and the talks do not take place in Istanbul, Iran is going to lose its staunchest supporter in the nuclear issue. If Tehran is risking this it means that a break in Turkey-Iran relations is likely. This will have a pronounced effect across the entire region.
‘Let us get back to immediately before this development: Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani strongly criticised the Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul.
‘He called the participants “the enemies of Syria” and asserted that the meeting was held in order “to give Israel breathing space”.
‘Turkey asked Tehran for a retraction to which Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said: “Only the Foreign Minister, the President and the religious leader can make statements in foreign policy matters. Do not take this announcement to be Iran’s official position.”
‘Tehran has always used this method to explain away statements that bothered Turkey in the past. This is what I meant earlier when I said Iran always says what it wants to say by proxy.
‘If the decision to hold the nuclear talks in Iran is cancelled this will put a serious crimp in Turkish-Iranian relations.
‘This decision will be a key turning point in relations between both countries.
‘The Turkish-Iranian border forms a border between the East and the West in the 21st century map of power, and is a belt that extends from the Caucasus to the Gulf of Basra.
‘We may call it a “border” but you should think of it as a “front”. The Turkey-Iran border forms the front line in the way the United States and the European Union regard the region.
‘The Syria issue has long since transformed from the struggle for democracy and freedom into a conflict among the powers.
‘Russia’s military presence in Syria, Iran throwing its full support behind the Damascus administration and its efforts to keep it alive, Iran’s perception of every development directed at the line of solidarity that extends from Iran to the Mediterranean; all these show that the tough part of the Syria issue has only just begun.
‘Turkey will never give up on change in Syria. We have been saying this since the incidents began. Similarly, Iran is not going to back down either. Therefore, the chances of serious crises erupting between these two points of resistance are very high indeed.
‘It has not escaped attention that the statements coming out of Tehran, Damascus and Baghdad in recent days are practically the same.
‘Syria’s UN Envoy called Turkey’s Syria policy “a declaration of war”.
‘There are clues to the effect that Nuri al-Maliki’s administration in Baghdad and Tehran are thinking the same thing, even though they do not express this openly. This is because both countries believe Turkey is going to go into Syria.
‘There have been serious crises in Turkish-Iranian relations in the past. Every regional development from exporting the regime to US-Israeli projects to effect a regime change in Iran has impacted on bilateral relations.
‘Both Ankara and Tehran have managed to overcome all these crises through showing incredible restraint and with their vast experience.
‘Now a new crisis is brewing. In connection with this, an “anti”-thesis is being forged both in Turkish public opinion and at a regional level that is echoing in the streets.
‘I hope we can ride this one out as well. Otherwise, it will be a disaster.’
l Meanwhile, the chief of the General Staff of the Iranian Army has said that Imam Khomeini opposed the proposal of negotiating with America and that this suggestion has never been mentioned again after his death.
It has never been on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s agenda to have relations with America, he said.
Maj-Gen Seyyed Hasan Firuzabadi told reporters on Monday: ‘Recently, a gentleman talked about his memories regarding Imam Khomeini (referring to Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjan’s interview in which he said that he had suggested that Imam Khomeini negotiate with the USA), which was rejected by the Imam (Khomeini).
He said that major decisions in the country could only be made by the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei) and added: He (the Supreme Leader) is surrounded by experts who analyse issues and give some suggestions, and the Supreme Leader of the Revolution has not made such a decision yet.’
The chief of the Iranian General Staff also added: ‘America has started its battle against our country after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in all fields, and it has lost it in all these fields, fortunately.’
Commander Firuzabadi said: ‘America is facing such a disaster that it wants to negotiate with Iran, and some people are pursuing this issue inside the country.’
• Meanwhile, the Gulf states are being armed to the teeth by US imperialism and turned into USA arms depots.
The senior military adviser to the Supreme Leader Major General Yahya Rahim-Safavi told reporters on Monday 9 April, ‘In fact, certain Persian Gulf littoral states and even European countries have become American weapons depots.’
For example, Safavi said, Saudi Arabia bought 30 billion dollars of weapons from the United States in the past year.
Furthermore, an Iranian official government news agency IRNA stated on Tuesday that Iran’s Defence Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi had described the plan by some Arab countries in the region to build a missile defence shield in the Persian Gulf as a completely American-Israeli one.
The minister made the remarks after ceremonies to mark the 13th martyrdom anniversary of Ali Sayyed Shirazi who was one of the greatest army commanders during the eight year of war against Iraq.
‘We advise our friends not to join the plan,’ the brigadier general said.
He said such a plan would not only be unable to provide security but would endanger regional security.
The Deputy foreign minister for Arab-African Affairs, Hoseyn Amir Abdollahian said on Monday 9 April that anti-Syria conspiracies and the armed struggle against the Syrian government failed with Syria leaving behind the critical phase.
Amir Abdollahian delivered a letter from Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi to Oman’s Foreign Minister Yusuf Bin-Alawi Bin-Abdallah in Muscat.
Abdollahian said the Islamic Republic of Iran categorically supports the Syrian nation and the reform programme ushered in by President Bashar al-Assad, a reference to a referendum to approve the new Constitution which envisaged a democratic election and a shift of power structure in line with the new Constitution.
He said that the future belongs to the resistance to Israeli occupation, the Syrian people and the leadership of al-Assad in the light of the democratic reforms underway in Syria.
Citing the Islamic Republic of Iran’s stance on security of the Persian Gulf strategic region, he said that the Islamic Republic of Iran has always advocated the region’s welfare and stability.
‘The Islamic Republic of Iran considers a collective duty to guarantee security of the Persian Gulf given importance of the vital main route of the energy supply.’
He said that certain parties however have not taken the issue into consideration, trying to put the region in crisis through their hasty and unwise action.
Amir Abdollahian said that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not allow certain parties to foment unrest and escalate tension in the region, adding that security is the integral part of the region.
Noting that Bahrain is now in a critical situation, Amir Abdollahian said the hasty and uncalculated military moves have deprived the benevolent people of any opportunity to present a political strategy and violence must stop after more than one year suppression in Bahrain. ‘Otherwise, the situation will get out of control there, which would not be in favour of any of the parties but enemies of the region.’