Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Iran is just coming along; which side is Turkey on?

-Published in Hurriyet Daily News on June 23th, 2009-
-Hurriyet Daily News'te, 23 Haziran 2009 Tarihinde Yayinlanmis Makalem-

On a personal note, in my American journey, Iranian-Americans have played a significant role. One of the best friends of mine in America happened to be an Iranian-American, a guy who was called Arya. I say ’was’ because this dear friend of mine was killed in a motorbike accident just a couple of years ago before seeing these turbulent days of Iran. He was a son of one of those last minute exiled Iranian families when the Islamic regime struck in 1979.

We used to have these long discussions on Iran and Iran’s history. It was apparent from his passionate arguments how mad he was at the Islamic regime that pushed his family far away from their home. Iran’s articulated and intellectual people always tell outsiders something about their enormous potential. Therefore the question in my mind has been why is it that this country has been under this oppressive regime for so long. If one carefully digs through this question, one can also come up with the answer. The answer is the rareness of Iranians amid bringing the Islamic state to life from its rhetorical status. They wanted to act upon something that they believed in so dearly to give it a chance. And this incomparable audacity alone grabs the attention of outsiders for the admirable courage of this nation.

The young and bookish Iranians must have figured out that the time of the ruling with divine revelations ends by now to get its place in the history books. Instead of abiding to the divine revelations, today’s Iranian youngsters are blogging, twitting and uploading to reveal what they are capable of. And this latter attitude is crushing the other in the streets of Tehran.

Now the Iran we know, which doubts and challenges and rises up. After all, the Shiite belief of Iranians exactly represents these very ideas of second guessing, longing for merit and justice starting from the beginning of their faith with the fourth caliphate Ali. The developments that are happening in Iran don’t have to decisively end the Islamic regime now. Though this uprising decisively diminishes or even concludes the legitimacy of the regime and starts the beginning of its closing stages. And we will all witness this historic episode in the coming days, weeks and years.

I called Said A., an Iranian-American who has lived in America since the 80s and truly symbolizes an immigrant success story. How do I know him is a long story and I wish to elaborate it one day, though I would like to talk about his cautious excitement and happiness here. Over the phone, he didn’t agree with me on the impact of Obama’s Cairo speech to these events. Though he claimed that what is happening in Iran today is about the people of Iran and their being fed up with the mismanagement of their country in so many aspects. He argued that his countrymen only want their votes to be counted. He was wary not to say in definitive terms about what happened and how the elections were rigged or not. Though he was raising the issue of fairness and justice, which is to say, people must be heard.

Today, like Said, Iranian dissenters are playing the game with its rules and they are on the right side of history. This is why they will come out as victors from these difficult times, in one way or other, sooner or later.

When the ’zero problem’ policy falls short

The question is where Turkey is going. Starting with the Turkish media, why is it that we are so clumsy about covering the historic episode of Iran? While the-once-in-a-generation events are happening there, the Turkish administration is rushing to congratulate Ahmedinejad and his unmerited victory without hesitation. We do understand the importance of famous ’zero problem’ principle of Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu, the foreign minister of Turkey, which is an approach that I think should be praised. However I do not agree if this policy also comprises overtly supporting the current Iranian regime’s ruthlessness to just get along with it. I can’t help but ask if this support finds its roots through the many energy contracts that have been signed between the two countries. Or even the scarier scenario is the question of whether our administration officials identify themselves more with Ahmedinejad than the dissidents of the regime? Maybe the Iranian police and security forces’ oppressive and unbalanced use of force seems friendlier to the AKP than the protestors who are believed to be secular? We should not kid ourselves and confuse the situations: not meddling in the internal affairs of another country doesn’t mean being dead-quiet on the issues of the human right problems. Even if, sadly, historically Turkey doesn’t have much moral authority over the subject.

Mr. Ibrahim Kalın, who has recently replaced Mr. Ahmed Davutoğlu as top foreign affairs adviser to the prime minister, writes weekly columns for a couple of newspapers, including, Today’s Zaman. Leave aside the problems with writing as high foreign affairs official in such a controversial newspaper, when we read Mr. Kalın’s latest article that appeared on June 19, we see that the most important problem of the week for Mr. Kalın is the "healthy dialogue between religion and science" and how to develop "an ethic of scientific inquiry and nourish a moral framework ... for dealing with the natural environment in a humane manner." After a week of uprising in Iran and many dead, Turkey’s top foreign affairs adviser sees no need to dwell on these incidents; instead he spends his time on how the scientific inquiry can be ethical. In fact, skipping to write and not advising his new boss of speaking up against the cold-blooded confrontation of the protests is a behavior that needs some ethical inspirations.

Iranians are just coming from the backwardness to catch up with the rest of the world, finally. Though I am not sure about approving these "unjust and violent acts" in a neighboring country, what it is that the Turkish administration wishes to accomplish? All in all, Turkey worries me more in these riotous days of Iran than Iran itself. Really, whose side is Turkey on?

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