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memri
February 19, 2009 No.
2248

'Kayhan': 'Turkey's Place is Alongside Iran'; The Turkish Muslim Brotherhood Model Is Influenced By, and Supportive of, The Iranian Islamic Model

Iranian leaders and the Iranian media have lately been stressing the need for tighter relations with Islamic Turkey, and even for forming a strategic alliance with it, as part of the regional and global confrontation between Islam and the West. These statements have taken on greater significance since the recent Gaza war, which revealed that two camps exist in the Middle East – the Iranian axis (comprising Iran, Syria, Qatar, Hizbullah and Hamas) and the Saudi-Egyptian camp – and that these camps are engaged in an escalating cold war:[1]

Following are excerpts from recent Iranian statements and press articles on this topic.

Tehran and Ankara – A Strategic Regional Alliance

At a January 2009 meeting with Turkish Ambassador to Iran Salim Kara 'Othman Oglu, Parviz Davoudi, deputy to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said: "In the new circumstances [that have emerged], the expansion of relations between Iran and Turkey is a necessity... As the two great powers [in the region], the two countries have a broad common denominator, and by deepening the cooperation between them, they could play a decisive role in [shaping] the regional and international balances [of power]... The support of the Turkish government and people for the oppressed people of Gaza showed that [Turkey] was taking an independent stance."

The Turkish ambassador, for his part, said, "The government in Ankara is willing to broaden its relations with Tehran in all areas, and to the maximal extent."[2]

Majlis National Security and Foreign Affairs Committee member Hossein Naqavi Hosseini wrote, in an article titled "Tehran and Ankara [to Form] a Strategic Regional Alliance" in the Iranian daily Iran: "Turkey [took a course different than that taken by] some other Islamic and Arab governments... which preferred their own interests to the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people... Like Iran, [Turkey] responded immediately to the invasion of Gaza by the Zionist regime, and acted to rally international and regional public opinion against the [Israeli] invasion and occupation, by appealing to international forums and influential countries. The Turkish people, too, stood by their government by holding massive [protest] marches.

"Turkey's active role in condemning the [Israeli] invasion, [the line taken by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan in interviews to the Western press in Brussels in which he defended [Turkey's] sincere relations with Iran, and the current presence in Iran of the Turkish economic delegation [all] show that the way to a strategic Iran-Turkey alliance is [already] paved.

"The [Iranian] government, and especially its Foreign Ministry, are expected to use all their capabilities to forge this alliance."[3]

Kayhan: Turkey's Inclination Towards Political Islam – A Strategic Goal For Us

"A February 3, 2009 Kayhan editorial titled "The Muslim Brotherhood in Turkey", in the daily Kayhan (which is close to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei), dealt extensively with the growing influence of the Islamic movement (i.e. the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood) throughout the Middle East, presenting it as a Sunni Islamic model that supports the model of Iran's Shi'ite Islamic Revolution. The editorial stressed that Islamic Turkey, as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, must stand alongside Iran as part of an emerging Islamic Middle East bloc confronting the West:

"...To which camp does Turkey belong? To the West, or to the 'Islamic resistance?' Today, Islam's supporters in Turkey... are [actually] part of the Muslim Brotherhood.

"Everyone knows that the Muslim Brotherhood in Sunni countries – [both] Arab and non-Arab – is the most deeply rooted political movement to emerge in the last 120 years. It was established in Syria and Egypt... [and] now rules three countries, Turkey, Sudan, and Palestine, and plays a significant role in governing [several other] countries, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan and Tunisia.

"The governments of [Turkish Prime Minister] Erdogan, [Isma'il] Haniya and [Sudanese President Omar] Al-Bashir are currently [controlled by] the [Muslim] Brotherhood.

"Former Afghanistan prime minister Prof. Burhanuddin Rabbani, former Malaysian prime minister Makhatir Muhammad, and former Indonesia prime minister Abdurrahman Wahid were [also] Muslim Brotherhood leaders in their [respective] countries...

"There is no doubt that the Justice and Development Party – Erdogan's government – is well established and enjoys considerable religious support.

"The Turkish model is different from the Iranian one... [the former] is not at odds [with the latter], but rather is influenced by it and supportive of it.

"All Muslim [Brotherhood] groups in the Middle East support the Islamic Revolution [in Iran] and the regime of the Islamic Republic [of Iran]... Islam's supporters in Turkey have never criticized Iran, and have even sided with it on the issue of nuclear energy... Turkey under Islamic rule consistently supports Iran's regional stance...

"The Iran-Turkey rapport, which grows daily; the increasing rapport of these two countries with the [lands of the] broad and rich geographical [expanse of which they are a part, comprising] Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Sudan; and the joint [Iran-Turkish] effort to cooperate with other countries in the region, such as Qatar, Yemen, Algeria and Libya – [all these factors place] the countries of this bloc in an exceptional historic position completely at odds with Western interests – and especially with U.S. aspirations.

"In this bloc, there is no need for one country to be at the center, with the others rallying around it... For this [alliance] to succeed, the larger and more influential countries must strengthen the influence of the other [smaller] countries, and welcome more extensive diplomacy by the smaller member countries. Our enemies are undoubtedly aware of this...

"The members of [this] Islamic movement see joining the E.U. as a multifaceted [challenge] for the resistance front – [a challenge] with political, cultural, economic and security aspects. They believe that it is impossible to ignore the northern gate of this front [i.e. Turkey] and its ties with Europe, or to underestimate its importance. They think that this issue [i.e. Turkish membership in the E.U.] will imbue the regional resistance front with aspects of international influence.

"Turkey's inclination towards [political] Islam... is a strategic goal [for us] – because there are forces in the West that are making great efforts to misleadingly portray Turkey as diametrically opposed to Iran and to the Islamic movements in the Middle East...

"Some media outlets in the region... do the same when they present Turkey as Sunni and/or Turkish [rather than Islamic]... Through this propaganda, they wish first of all to console themselves a little, because it pains them to realize that the Middle East is slipping from [the control of] the West and the Arab countries allied with it. Another [aim of such propaganda] is to suppress the resistance, by driving a wedge between Iran and the other countries of the region.

"But following the millions-strong Istanbul demonstration in support of Gaza, and Erdogan's indictment of Peres at Davos, [the West] must soon acknowledge that in the changing situation in the Middle East, Turkey's place is alongside Iran. [The West must also realize] that these two models [Iran's and Turkey's] are [only] two of the Islamic movement models [that exist,] which share two goals: ending Western control of [energy] resources and of the Middle East [lands], and reviving Islamic civilization and identity."[4]

Turkey Is Influenced by Iran's Islamic Revolution

Some senior Iranian officials attributed recent statements by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to the influence of the Islamic Revolution. Senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamdani said at a meeting with senior Iranian military intelligence officers: "[Erdogan's] declarations against the regime that is occupying Jerusalem are a sign of the [impending] downfall of the artificial Israeli regime... The victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran precipitated a great awakening throughout the world... God willing, the earthquake that will destroy Israel will come [soon], preparing the ground for the arrival of the Hidden Imam."[5]

Yahya Rahim Safavi, security advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, attributed Erdogan's actions at Davos to the influence of Iran's Islamic regime: "Erdogan's... courageous words at the Davos summit against the war crimes of the Zionist regime... are evidence of the Islamic awakening among the Turkish people – a result of the influence of Iran's Islamic Revolution."[6]

At a closed meeting with Erdogan on the subject of Gaza, during his mid-January 2009 visit to Turkey, Iranian Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani said: "As the two influential countries in the region, Iran and Turkey can play a decisive role in the [Gaza] crisis." Erdogan, for his part, said that he wished to expand commercial ties between Iran and Turkey – which currently stand at about $20 billion – and also stressed Turkey's wish to complete the Iran-Europe gas pipeline project as soon as possible.[7]


Endnotes:

[1] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 492, "An Escalating Regional Cold War –Part I: The 2009 Gaza War," February 2, 2009, An Escalating Regional Cold War – Part I: The 2009 Gaza War; MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 490,"Recent Attempts to Form Strategic Regional Bloc: Syria, Turkey and Iran," January 6, 2009, Recent Attempts to Form Strategic Regional Bloc: Syria, Turkey and Iran .

[2] IRNA (Iran), January 20, 2009.

[3] IRNA (Iran), January 29 2009.

[4] Kayhan (Iran), February 3, 2009.

[5] IRNA (Iran), February 1, 2009.

[6] Fars (Iran), February 4, 2009.

[7] Resalat (Iran), January 15, 2009.