Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Istanbul Talks Outside Istanbul?

An Iranian Leader Floating Baghdad, Beirut and Damascus as Alternatives

The venue for the nuclear talks between Iran and six major powers is now suddenly in doubt. The US had announced earlier that the P5+1 have proposed to Iran the dates of 13 and 14 April and Istanbul as the venue. The Iranians seemed ready to accept the proposal. Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi had said last week that Istanbul would be “the best option.” But today, Mohsen Rezaie, the former IRGC commander and the publisher of the influential news site Tabnak, said accepting Istanbul as the venue would be construed as Iran’s weakness.

"Given the fact that our friends in Turkey have failed to fulfill some of our agreements, the talks had better be held in another friendly country," said Rezaie. "Offering Istanbul as the venue for the upcoming talks might give this wrong impression to the opposite side that Iran has grown weak and is in weak conditions," he added [Fars News Agency, 3 April].

Rezaie, a leading figure in traditional conservative circles in the country, instead is floating the idea of Baghdad, Beirut or Damascus as alternatives to Istanbul.

Once-warm Iranian-Turkish ties have cooled and the Iranian establishment is quite angry at Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan for his leading role in opposing Assad’s regime in Syria. Iran is a steadfast supporter of the Syrian government. Hosting the meeting of the “Friends of Syria,” a group of more than 70 nations including Turkey, the US and a number of Arab countries, in Istanbul this week seemed to be the tipping point for Iran. In the past couple of days, a number of harsh comments by Iranian officials against Erdogan and his government’s policy vis-à-vis Syria have been appearing in the Iranian press, and now Rezaie’s call to boycott Istanbul.

Ironically, Erdogan has always been a strong supporter of Iran’s nuclear program and visited Iran last week and met with the country’s supreme leader and stressed the value of relations with Iran. And Turkey has been and remains a key importer of Iranian oil notwithstanding the existing sanctions. But Syria is rapidly becoming the hot button in Iran, even trumping the nuclear and sanctions issues.


Mark Pyruz said...

It's actually more than just Syria. There's the missile defense site Turkey has agreed to host, as well as Turkish concessions to reduce it's oil purchases from Iran, and more.

Baghdad as a potential site! Amazing, isn't it? Iraq and Iran aren't quite a Shia superstate, but in some ways relations are better than the historical UAR ever were; all thanks to the gross miscalculations of OIF.

There are voices in Tehran that believe any negotiations over the nuclear program should take place after the U.S. presidential election. This was indirectly confirmed by Obama's gaffe in Moscow where he stated into a working microphone in front of reporters that he would have greater flexibility after the election to deal with U.S.-Russia relations. This would apply to Iran, as well, and certainly the Iranians see it this way.

Nader Uskowi said...

Crucial points, thanks.

Kemjika said...

Turkey has played middle sneaky man for a long time and Iran has to appreciate some of it. But you can't lead when you are a middle man. Turkey is still a NATO lapdog.

Anonymous said...

Good point........ Meeting anywhere but in the 3 places allied with Iran indicates that the vast majority of the world can be trusted not to trust iran or support Iranian dishonesty concerning their weapons program.

Iran is , of course, quite weak and is hoping to not have to publicly demonstrate the extent of that weakness, so it make sense that iran should make stupid demands even before the meeings can begin.

when the idiotic sites suggested by this Iranian are scorned, Iran can paint it as another glorious victory.

Anonymous said...

Or ,Turkey has asked Iran to help it get US pressure off its back.

"When US keeps pushing and blackmailing its Nato partner into issues against its National Interest, then Turkey needs Irans Help to stage differences and get the MAFIA of its back"

Dariush London