Monday, May 31, 2010

Is it ‘as ugly as it gets’ yet?

   Friday, May 28, 2010
  It took about 10 days for New York Times' columnist Thomas Friedman to call the Turkish-Brazilian mobilized nuclear enrichment deal and its attachment of three leaders' happy picture “as ugly as it gets,” and a move to, “weaken the global coalition to pressure Iran to open its nuclear facilities to U.N. inspectors.” Still, one wonders if things can get any uglier.
As Lula da Silva, the Brazilian leader, met with the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Brazil on Thursday, Silva was reported telling to the press on behalf of both countries that: "We did everything [the West] wanted and everything we could, now they have to say clearly whether they want to build peace or if they want to build conflict – Turkey and Brazil are for peace."
Turkey believes that it has even a particular and more valid argument for taking a side. Iran is Turkey's one of the most valuable trade partners, and this partnership has an ever-promising future to continue in that direction. As a significant wealth source, a mutually beneficial partnership with Iran is a significant driving force along with the Turkey's regional power aspirations.
The ideology, religion and solidarity among the Easterners, against the Westerners, can only play a limited role in today's world. The human race has passed the time of being satisfied by exclusive prizes that are promised for the next world. Now the hot commodity is to provide life standards in which to include some resemblances of those prizes in advance – now!
Nowadays, like any democracy, the public opinion matters dramatically in Turkey. It does the most visibly so when it comes to ask for a freer environment for businesses to thrive, therefore to reach more foreign markets at faster pace to export. Today's politicians, including Turkish materialistic/pro-market/pro-Islamic/conservative ones, as result of daily taken opinion polls, feel the need on their neck continuously.
Turkey, a country which vows to lead the Muslim world once more, sent long-planned aid ships to Gaza and challenged the Israeli blockade this week. An apparent move to flex some muscles for the sought leadership role.
Including me, most disagree with the Israeli blockade regime, and with the way the Turkish administration currently pursues to defy it.
The moral argument of the Eastern world, (what was the argument?) was rebuked by one of its own, Carnegie Endowment’s Iran expert Karim Sadjadpour, in Friedman's same article. Sadjapour is quoted as saying: "Lula and Erdoğan’s visit to Iran came just days after Iran executed five political prisoners who were tortured into confessions. They warmly embraced Ahmadinejad as their brother, but didn’t mention a word about human rights. There seems to be a mistaken assumption that the Palestinians are the only people that seek justice in the Middle East, and if you just invoke their cause you can coddle the likes of Ahmadinejad.”
This harsh rebuke, which puts the Turkish leadership's policy on the Palestine issue, as a category of mere populism, like of Ahmedinejad's.
What is more, Turkey argues that there is no credible, corroborating evidence to convince that Iran enriches uranium for a nuclear bomb.
While it looks like the prevention stage against Iran to have nuclear bomb making capability seems to have passed, the West certainly tries to deter Iran to reach it now, just before entering a containment period. It will be worthwhile to see, what will today's Turkish leadership say, once Iran tests its first nuclear weapon within the foreseeable future and tilt the power needle in favor of the Persians after centuries of struggle with Turks.
The U.S. administration was very careful with the language it chose when assessing the latest Turkey-Brazil meeting on Thursday late afternoon. When I asked, one White House Senior Official explained to me why today's U.S. administration does not accept the nuclear deal which is similar to the one eight months ago itself sought to achieve. The official said: "We should be clear that the original IAEA proposal, which was made 8 months ago and to which Iran agreed to and walked away from, was always meant to be a confidence-building measure … not a solution. The reason we are moving forward on sanctions is that Iran has repeatedly failed to live up to its international obligations to its overall program."
An extraordinarily long e-mail chose the “coldest” words possible when addressing the issue, with no praise or open criticism for Turkey. The official also responded to those statements that came from the leaders of Turkey and Brazil on the same day later in e-mail, and why the U.S. administration disagrees "seriously" with the their initiative:
- "Today is not October 2009. Eight months have passed and in that time Iran has deliberately moved its nuclear program closer to weapons capability by enriching to 20 percent.
- Two weeks ago, the Iranian Foreign Minister ruled out suspending 20 percent enrichment even in the context of an agreement on the reactor fuel issue.
- And, let’s remember that there were three commitments that Iran made in Geneva, including to meet with the P5+1 on its nuclear program by the end of October 2009. Iran continues to resist that discussion, saying the case is closed.
- Iran is the subject of five U.N. Security Council resolutions, and has not moved to meet its obligations."
For many, the U.S., under Obama's leadership, reset the buttons and took many steps that have been viewed as concessions to both Russia and China, in big part to secure their support for the boiling Iranian predicament. According to various channels in Washington, Turkey's spoiler role over the issue "annoyed" and made "furious" some administration officials.
Did the relations between Turkey and the U.S. reach the stage of “as ugly as it gets” or is there more ugliness to see. In spite of my own disappointment, I hedge for the latter.
Here are some potential screenplays that might be noted as setbacks for Turkey's regional leadership ambitions if they are to happen in coming days and weeks:
1. Netanyahu receives the warmest welcome from Obama's White House, which has invited Jewish Supreme Court justices and successful entrepreneurs, rabbinical scholars, Olympic athletes and others to show more love before the November elections.
2. Following or prior to number one happens, the U.S. administration backs up the Israeli side over the Turkish-Israeli flotilla crises. Netanyahu condemns the Turkish behavior over the flotilla crises, while Obama idly watches him or away.
3. The U.S. administration rejects the "nuclear enrichment deal," for the reasons cited above, along with other European allies and possibly with Russia and China.
4. Sanctions regime package sails through the United Nations Security Council and Turkey faces its hardest decision yet and loses in all options.
Turkey, for its spot on a map and a host of other specialties, will be always a valuable ally in the region for the U.S. and will become eventually a powerhouse. What matters the most, and makes a world of difference and losses: Turkey might miss yet another chance to stretch better for Western civilization for decisions that are being made today.
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Guest - VOLKAN
2010-05-31 01:06:04
 Turkey was very modern ,free muslim country. I think Turkey should stay away from Iran,Iraq,Suriye any excrimimst country. If they do Turkey will be in big very big trouble. I hope this President he relaize that ,if not he will bring Turkey big disaster. TURKEY MUST FALLOW ATATURK FOOT STEPS. 
Guest - Gloomy views are ahead
2010-05-30 09:28:34
 Iran-man: You write: "Western civilization" that you love so much has ALWAYS detested your country, your culture, your people's religion and above all ANYTHING TURKISH!" Gosh, you must have a very hard life at this time of globalization when different cultures and people meet and influence eachother. Sorry to disappoint you, but the wonderful days when people (very few) were driving Anadol cars and only ate Turkish food and enjoyed belly dancing, are gone. We are all part of the same world today, and it is enevitable that we see influences flying around the world. But if you dont like it, through out your American or Chinesee computer, buy only local stuff, watch old Turkish movies (but not on TV because it was not invented it Turkey), forget about cars (and aeroplanes but I guess you are not very interested going abroad neither) and stop living in your house based on foreign technology. Have fun man! 
Guest - Hallil
2010-05-30 09:19:19
 babadog. You wrote, in a clear tone of self pitty, "the EU.Its full of people who say they want us and do nothing" . I am sorry to inform you, but it is Turkey which is far behind the EU requirements in terms of economy, human rights, education, food security etc etc. And you are now sitting there like a spoiled kid complaining that EU is not helping? They have given us the chance, if we get things in order, to join. But what have you done, only complained and Turkey has virtually stopped all reforms to IMPROVE THE COUNTRY. What do you want EU to do? Come down here and build saferfactories, take over the police, while you can sit and watch them in the shade with a glas of raki? You (personally) are acting like a beggar who thinks he is a king. EU is not the one who should do the work, WE should work. That is the way to build this country, through hard work, not begging others for help. 
Guest - Victor
2010-05-30 03:44:04
 Babadog and Iran-man, you both have said a mouthful, and your views are exactly on the mark! Although been around the world, I am an American. Turks, Iranians, Arabs, well, in general all Muslims are considered to be the bottom-of-the-barrel material here!! There has been a lot of lip-service by the government officials when the occasion had called for it, but this has been the long-held view in USA. On the other hand, Israel cannot do wrong with Americans even when they butcher women and children! There always seems to be a viable reason for Israel to butcher Arabs, as they appear to want to extend their butchering toward Iran! Is Turkey next in their agenda for spreading the truth about Israel's mighty nuclear arsenal?!... And, EU; what a joke that is! What has Europe ever done for Turkey except to tear it apart, and split its territory among themselves? Turkey, you are Europe's ticket to ME and Asia; hold them to it, instead of appearing to beg them to accept you as one of them. 
Guest - Faruk Timuroglu
2010-05-30 00:19:44
 Thomas Friedman surely is not alone. Some of the same group of people of G. W. Bush era in U.S. trying hard to replay the same ugly scenario to force the Obama administration against Iran as they achieved to convince President Bush to invade Iraq. However, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Tony Blair, and so on aren’t there. Furthermore, it is not as easy to fool Obama as Bush. Neither America nor the world can afford it again. Moreover, Obama cannot get into W’s shoos. U.S. can’t keep continue invading countries in the region to relax the pressure on Israel. The only way out, is a just solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Israel must have peace with its neighbors. 
Guest - sid
2010-05-29 23:14:50
 Mr Tanir fails to mention the fact that Israel is the only nation in the region with a nuclear capability. Has anyone heard the West criticize this fact ever? The power and influence of the Jewish lobby in the US administration prevents actually to ascertain the US of its real national interests in the middle east, which cannot be achieved in the long run against the feelings and aspirations of the majority of the population in that region. The heavy handed approach of the US towards Iran is counter-productive and only reinforces the position of Ahmedinejad and the likes. Turkey and Brazil have shown, diplomacy can and does work. 
Guest - babadog
2010-05-29 11:01:28
 The comments in this article are way wide of the mark.Choosing to be the USA's puppy dog in the region has served Turkiye poorly over the decades and prevented it seeing the realities.Turkiye has enormous resources material and human and have never needed the aid it was offered but was drugged into this relationship.Similarly just take a look at the situation inside the EU.Its full of people who say they want us and do nothing and people who hate us to be in the EU and do plenty to block our efforts.Its a running joke and we as a nation are being demeaned. We are sitting on the most important geo-strategic and the most important trade route in the world.We have shaped history in the entire region through the Ottoman Empire and we have a very strong bond with the entire 1.5 billion Islamic world.We are selling ourselves very very cheaply to the West whereas the entire Muslim World is yearning for us to lead them to modernity progress and greater prosperity.Lets go Turkiye lets go...... 
Guest - Iran-man
2010-05-29 08:44:16
 Dear İLHAN TANIR, In case you missed it, the "Western civilization" that you love so much has ALWAYS detested your country, your culture, your people's religion and above all ANYTHING TURKISH! How long do you think Turkey should "stretch" to be an Oriental doormat for the West? No position of power comes without having to make difficult decisions and occasionally facing the bullies. Turkey has never been treated the same as Israel as an ally, and it never will be. Some of you daydreaming Turks must start realizing this fact now because the writing has been on the wall for a long time and no amount of wishful thinking is going to change the fact that Turkey has never been an important "ally" of the US. A country to provide its soldiers as cannon fodder to protect the Western countries of NATO yes, but an ally, I don't think so.

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