Friday, March 2, 2007

Turkey takes to Iran

I have long suspected that the great secular experiment undertaken by Attaturk to secularize and westernize Turkey would fall to radical Muslim resurgence in the middle east, particularly after Erdogan was elected. From all I have read and researched, it would seem that in Ankara, the two competing ideologies balance slightly in favor of Islamism at this point.

Now it appears that Iran is courting Erdogan with billions in cheap oil -- offering to increase trade from $6 billion to about $17 billion. Iran's purpose, of course, is to offset the effects of current and proposed sanctions over Iran's nuclear program. This could be ominous, or it could be simple a temporary engagement in byzantine politics that many full members of the EU are playing. By that I mean Germany and Italy have extensive economic ties to Iran, and neither is going along at this point with significant sanctions. In fact, both are seeking to hold off on further sanctions and reopen talks with Iran -- in essence, throwing in with Iran and allowing the U.S. and the U.K. to shoulder the vast majority of the burden and costs of protecting the West from the threat Iran poses. It may well be that, under the circumstance, Erdogan is playing real polotik and sees it to Turkey's advantage to take current economic advantage.

Certainly Iran and Turkey are not natural allies in the grand scheme of things -- Iran being a Shia nation, Turkey being a Sunni nation, predominantly Sufi with an increasing influence from the Wahabbists. And the U.S. has been a strong ally of Turkey for many years. Nonetheless, with Islamism on the rise, even a shia may appear more palatable to Erdogan in the long run then does the support of U.S. military action against a Muslim state.

Villagers with Torches, posting on the Maverick News Network site, sees this closening of ties with Iran as a very ominous step by Turkey out of the secular and into the Iranian camp. And he may well be right. I certainly agree with him that Turkey, as a member of NATO, cannot have it both ways in this matter and that we need to impress upon Erdogan, as well as our other European NATO allies that all of them need to make a choice of who to support in this matter. And they need to do so soon. The greater they delay and hinder sanctions against Iran, the greater looms the possibility of war, with all the attendant ramifications that such may have for NATO as a whole and Turkey in particular.

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