The Middle East has acquired immense strategic value as one of the determining fulcrums in the global balance of power due to its being the world’s largest known storehouse of low-cost energy supplies. The region’s geopolitical importance, the kaleidoscopic nature of politics among its states, the presence of volatile social and political forces within them and the interference of world superpowers all insure that the region will remain a potentially explosive source of tension for years.
Emboldened by its military strength after World War II, Moscow prepared to carve up its southern neighbors. It demanded territorial concessions and control of the Bosporus from Turkey and refused to withdraw from northern Iran, which it had occupied in 1941. Turkey and Iran rebuffed Soviet coercive diplomacy with the support of the United States and became key allies in the American effort to contain Soviet expansion.
The Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) was a defense alliance between Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and Great Britain. Originally named the Baghdad Pact, the name was changed when the Iraqi revolution led Iraq to withdraw in 1959. The United States had observer status in the alliance but was not a party to the treaty. The fall of the shah removed the American shield from Iran, sounded the death knell for the anti-Soviet CENTO alliance and sailed Iran towards new horizons.
Now the same faith is on the road for Turkey. The measureless and injudicious backup given by the occupying power in Iraq — the US government — to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and to Massoud Barzani, the former tribal leader of the Iraqi Kurds and now the leader of the Iraqi Kurdish region.
Turkey, taking into consideration the ongoing assaults by the PKK terrorists in the southeastern regions and the measureless backup given by US government to Iraqi Kurds, has drawn up a new strategic alliance policy that weakens ties with the US and strengthens relations with Iran and Syria, its millennium-long neighbors.
The US has failed to keep its promise to Turkey to confront the PKK. Turkey now feels that it has no choice but to attack the PKK’s sanctuaries in northern Iraq together with Iran.
Iran is also suffering from similar assaults originating from the same terrorist group located in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq under the name of Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK).
The US and Iran are increasingly at odds over a range of issues, and Turkey has stood nearby the US as an old and devoted ally for the past 57 years, but now the sympathy of Turkish people towards the US had fallen sharply over the past couple of years, and it will take decades for US to recover it.
It seems it is now mandatory for Turkey and Iran to form a common cooperative ground in regard to common problems and interests. New and stronger cooperative action in the economic field by Turkey and Iran will play a major role in the eradication of the political distrust and concerns between the two countries. The parties have announced an upcoming doubling of the volume of their trade.
Both countries have already agreed on the elimination of the main source of discord: support for each other’s separatist and oppositional organizations. Iran has committed to adding the PKK to its list of “terrorist organizations.” Turkey has done the same concerning the anti-Iran terrorist group “Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO).”
The second stage is the escalation of high-level cooperation between Turkey, Iran and Syria and this is moving forward, as well.
Aversion to American global policy, in particular to the actions of the US in Iraq, the common allies of Syria and Iran, and also shared economic interests, will lead to the merging of the political strategies of Russia and Turkey. Countries that were previously historical opponents will turn into partners in the creation of a new Eurasian coalition.
The final effect of the region’s aversion to American policies will be the formation of the “union of four:” Russia, Turkey, Iran and Syria. Of course, this rapprochement between Ankara, Moscow, Damascus and Tehran will definitely affect Washington’s position in the Middle East.