Thursday, May 20, 2010

Turkey's Iran Gamble

I have an analysis piece up on the World Politics Review website looking at Turkey's role in brokering the recently signed nuclear fuel swap deal with Iran and what the agreement says about Turkey's relationship with Iran and with its traditional allies. From the piece:
Although its future is shrouded in doubt, the deal announced on Monday by the Turkish and Brazilian presidents that would allow Iran to ship half of its enriched uranium across the border to Turkey will very likely also serve as an important milestone in the development of a new Turkish foreign policy that is increasingly independent, assertive and engaged in regional -- and even global -- affairs.

For Turkey, the deal represents a major achievement in its effort to engage Iran and to promote a diplomatic solution to the ongoing debate over Tehran's nuclear program -- while in the process burnishing its credentials as a regional mediator and diplomatic heavyweight. But the agreement could also end up driving a wedge in Ankara's relations with Washington and some its European allies....

....The contrasting reactions to the fuel swap agreement stems from a significant difference of opinion between Ankara and its Western allies about how to best approach the question of Iran.

Turkey and its foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, appear to be taking a longer-term view on the issue, hoping to manage Iran, rather than confront it. The hope is that confidence-building measures might slowly change the Iranian leadership's mentality. Turkish diplomats speak of changing Iran's "psychology," and, indeed, Davutoglu's comments after the agreement was signed echoed that very clearly. The agreement represents "an important psychological threshold" of trust with Iran, he said after it was signed, adding that it also requires Tehran to make "psychological sacrifices."
You can read the full piece here.

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