Turkish u-turn fuels renewed tension between Ankara and Tehran

Turkish President spokesman tries to downplay crisis. Turkey does not want "an escalation" of words with Iran. But Erdogan accuses Tehran of  "destabilizing” the region  irritating the leaders of the Islamic Republic. Ambassador summoned, a ready response on the Syrian arena. Israel's moves to create an Arab-Turkish in front in an anti-Iranian key.


Beirut (AsiaNews) – Government spokesman Ibrahim Kalin Turkey has tried to defuse tensions between Ankara and Tehran, declaring that his country does not want "an escalation" of words with Iran. However the claim seems scarcely credible to the Islamic Republic, following recent events at a Monaco conference on security and to that of Astana on Syria.

Adding fuel to the fire, then there are the statements made by the Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his recent official visit to Qatar and Saudi Arabia. In recent days Iran has summoned the Turkish ambassador in Tehran  for clarification on the sentences pronounced by the Turkish president, who has accused the Islamic Republic of "destabilizing" the region.

As recently as six months ago the Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu flew to Tehran to seek help to emerge from the economic mess that threatened his country following the economic sanctions imposed by neighboring Russia. A decision issued by Moscow in response to the shooting down of Russian jets on Syrian territory by the Turkish anti-aircraft batteries.

The visit of the Turkish Foreign Minister was then followed by the official visit of President Erdogan in Iran, who was welcomed warmly. A diplomatic mission that contributed, at that time, to bringing Ankara closer to the Russia-Iran-Syria axis, involved in the six year war in the Arab country that overlooks the Mediterranean.
Tensions with the Obama administration in the aftermath of the failed coup in Turkey, the cooling in relations with Europe and the failures in the Arab countries, in addition to closing with Russia, had pushed Ankara into a deep isolation. A decline from which only Iran seemed able to pull it out.

New economic and trade agreements were signed in the context of Erdogan's visit to Tehran, which have helped to increase the volume of trade between Turkey and Iran. A significant jump from the previous 10 billion per year to 30 billion, while bolstering the Turkish economy.

The Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu, who only six months ago was praising Iran, then declared during the Security Conference held in Monaco on February 20 that "the role of Iran in the region is destabilizing." According to the head of Ankara's diplomacy Iran is trying to "spread the Shiite doctrine in Iraq and Syria." These words have prompted the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to summon the ambassador and communicate that "Iran's patience has limits."

The Turkish turnaround comes at a crucial moment, when the Israeli statements calling on so-called "moderate Arab countries " - particularly the Sunni monarchies of the Gulf - not to consider Israel as an enemy, but Tehran. And to join the Jewish state and the Western world in an anti-Iranian alliance.

On the ground the new positions of Turkey have caused a Syrian army to advance around the city of Al Bab: a clear message to Ankara that in the case of another u-turn, Damascus, Tehran and Moscow are ready to oppose a Turkish advance beyond Al Bab, to Membej. And, above all, the refusal to create a buffer zone desired by Turkey as a first step of a later territorial annexation. (PB)