By Ihsan Bal
The tensions in Turkish-Iranian relations are stoking the appetites of conspiracy lovers.
In the Middle East region, conspiracies are like a disease, one that is skilfully and regularly used to conceal the facts. In these lands psychological offensives and asymmetric operations have become a regular part of life, making it appear that it is forbidden to learn what is really going on.
So for example, it is usually a hopeless task to try and find answers to questions about what is going wrong in Turkish-Iranian relations and where there is an error.
Where Iran is concerned, there is unfortunately a widespread and oversimplified form of reasoning: “Since Iran is opposed to Teheran, Israel, and America, it must therefore be in the right on every aspect and condition of what it does.
If we adopt this logic, then it might be asserted that Iran’s actions are right and true even when it gives its support to the dictator in Syria. Those who think like this hold that the dictator Assad cannot be held responsible for the deaths of 30,000 Syrians and millions of people being forced to leave their country, whereas Turkey is denounced as having almost the entire responsibility for the tragedy we have lived through.
The pretext which lies behind such reasoning is very obvious. It is that Turkey is a member of NATO and the Western block and this implies that no position or action by Turkey in the Middle East region can ever be right, reasonable, or correct.
Recent history can be used to show that this line of reasoning is wrong. The Orthodox peoples, the Slavs, Serbians, and supporters of Milosevic were opponents of the West and NATO. They were committing major massacres in the Balkans. Did that mean we had to focus simply on their opposition to the West and regard what they did as legitimate?
Just as it is doing in Syria today, Turkey at that particular period was, as a NATO member country, trying to persuade the then US president, Bill Clinton, to stop the tragedy in Bosnia. However the very people who at that time said we were right have the audacity today to blame Turkey for the massacres in Syria.
Iran’s ceaseless threats
Iranian officials make claims like ‘Turkey is responsible for the bloodshed in Syria’, ‘Turkey is serving American interests in Syria’; ‘Support from Turkey is main reason for the deaths of innocent people in Syria’ and by doing so, they are persistently and systematically attempting to push responsibility of the murders of the Baath regime on to Turkey. Furthermore the criticisms and accusations directed at Turkey from several levels are not just restricted to Syria.
A large number of Iranian officials, ranging from generals to diplomats, from Yahya Rahim, the military councillor of the Ayatollah Khomeini to Hussein Nakavi, the spokesman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee in the Iranian Parliament, have claimed that Turkey’s turn will come. Indeed these personages see nothing untoward in openly proclaiming that Turkey should be looking to its own internal disorders and that should there ever be an attack, they would strike first at the Kürecik Base at Malatya.
Although so many accusations are being made against Turkey and it has been identified as a target, even its strongest statement towards Iran has been strikingly moderate. Using a much calmer voice than his usual tough way of speaking, Prime minister Erdoğan has replied to the criticisms. He points out that Turkey stood beside Iran when no one else would and asks “I am asking the Iranians whether or not our faith allows us to defend a regime that kills people.’
While this has been going on, proof has emerged that Iran is supporting the PKK and that Turkey is swarming with Iranian agents.
If Israel or America were trying to open a rift between Turkey and Iran, they need not bother. Despite all the efforts being made by the Turkish side, Iranian officials are knocking at our door saying things that increase the tension or making a threatening action.
It is impossible not to wonder how people who are so busy with conspiracy theories will bring down the curtain on a drama being played out so brazenly.
In a previous article, I stated that we cannot allow Turkish-Iranian relations to be made the prisoner of simplistic conspiracy theories and wishy-washy East-West confrontations. It will only be possible for us to build a less problematic future, one not based on emotionalism but on realistic information, when we modify our current perceptions.
Head of USAK Science Committee
*This article appeared first on Monday 10 September 2012 in HaberTürk newspaper.