NIGHTWATCH Extract on Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia

05 Iran, 08 Wild Cards

Iran-Turkey: Iranian President Ahmadi-Nejad said on 13 June that the United States pressured Turkey to abstain on a U.N. Security Council vote approving new sanctions against Iran, instead of voting against the sanctions, Islamic Republic TV reported. Ahmadi-Nejad said Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan told him US President Obama spoke with Erdogan on the telephone requesting Turkey's abstention for 90 minutes. Erdogan also allegedly told Ahmadi-Nejad that Obama said he needed to “do something” about Iran, that he was under pressure from the US Congress and that the sanctions were not strong and would have no effect on Iran.

Comment: If Ahmadi-Nejad's statements are accurate, the Turkish prime minister committed an egregious betrayal of confidence. If the Turkish government does not deny this report, the US is entitled to consider it and treat it as authentic. Turkey is behaving as an ally of Iran more than an ally of the US.

Many commentators have warned about Turkey's aspirations for leadership in the Gaza confrontation. A point overlooked is it is not a Muslim problem, so much as an Arab political problem. Turks are not really welcome except to the extent that they provide diversion from Arab handling of the problem. The same is also true of the Persians in Iran.

Support for HAMAS is not a path to leadership in the Arab world for outsiders. Arab leaders also apparently judge that strong support for HAMAS does not advance their interests.

Iraq: For the record. A one-hour meeting between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and al-Iraqiya leader Iyad Allawi on 12 June ended with both parties agreeing to form a national partnership government encompassing all groups, Aswat al-Iraq reported.
This announcement did not state who will be the prime minister.

Saudi Arabia: For the record. On the afternoon of 12 June responded to The Times of London report that the Saudi forces would allow Israeli jets to use Saudi airspace to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities, Jerusalem Post reported. The Saudi Defense Ministry described the report as being baseless and untrue.

Comment: This minor fracas looks like a Saudi reminder to the Persians of what can happen if they continue to intrude in Arab affairs, such as Gaza, or are shown to have developed a nuclear weapons capability. A Saudi denial is required and an important part of the message that will feed Iranian anxiety.


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