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Can Turkey Reconcile Iran and U.S?

Interview with Asadollah At-hari, Turkish affairs analyst; source: Iranian Diplomacy

Obama has stated that Turkey can be an important player on Iran's nuclear program. Is the U.S. president indirectly asking Turkey to mediate between Iran and US?

Obama is in fact trying to take advantage of Erdogan's close ties with Tehran to solve the confrontation over Iran's nuclear program. In dealing with Iran's nuclear program, Turkey's way is different from Arabs'. Turkey has maintained that Iran's nuclear program is of a peaceful nature. Turkey, as the only Muslim member of NATO and a member of the UN Security Council, has the potential to aid Obama in putting an end to the dispute over Iran's nuclear program. To avoid confrontation with both sides of the face-off, Turkey cast a vote of abstention to IAEA's latest resolution on Iran's nuclear program.

It is said that U.S. will ask Erdogan to convey its serious warning to Iran. What would be the content of this message of admonition?

Why would Iran and U.S. want to send each other threatening messages? I think the circumstances in Middle East do not allow for such radical measures. As you see, Americans were forced to dispatch more soldiers to Afghanistan and Iraq is still wrestling with security problems. There are other regional problems in Lebanon, Yemen etc. So it is unlikely that Washington flexes its muscles for Iran in this situation.

However, Tehran has stumbled over U.S. gestures to start a new era of interaction and that has disappointed the Americans. Now they feel that it is time to add to the pressures. However, I believe that diplomacy is still the best option and there is no need for mediation of a third country. Iran and U.S. should sit at the table of negotiations and discuss problems in Afghanistan and Iraq. The differences between Iran and the United States will only respond to direct contact. Pressure will just backfire.

Is there any connection between [Head of Iranian National Security Council] Said Jalili's visit to Turkey and Erdogan's subsequent trip to Washington?

Turkey can serve a constructive role in palliating the tensions between Iran and IAEA, West and the United States. Turkey has increased its economic, diplomatic and cultural ties with Iran, besides Iran, it is an influential state in the global order, it is a member of G20, NATO and UN Security Council, it commands NATO forces in Kabul, has brokered negotiations in Lebanon, regards Middle East as its strategic depth, has reinforced relations with Persian Gulf states and... Our Western neighbor can use its international weight to temper the strained relations between Iran and West.

How serious are the chances of Turkey brokering between Iran and the United States?

You should seize any opportunity possible in diplomacy. Turks are both pragmatist and Islamist, that's why Washington thinks they may better understand Iranians. The frequent visits between Iranian and Turkish officials during the recent months and Erdogan's visit to Washington give us hints of what is going on.

Erdogan's visit to Iran in October was regarded by some observers as a part of Turkey's efforts to reconcile Iran and the United States, but I think Turks have their own plans. Their foreign policies are based on the doctrines of Ahmet Davutoglu, their foreign minister, who seeks a balance between Turkey's ties with West and the Muslim World. Turkey's stance on Iran-US confrontation will be an acid test for AKP's Middle East strategies. Turks should be cautious not to distress Iran while economic and political relations are on the right track. 

... Payvand News - 01/27/11 ... --

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