As Tanks Rumbled in Istanbul, Turkey Did Not Hear Supporting Voice of Saudi Rulers

Monday, August 22, 2016

Elyas Vahedi
Expert on Turkey and Caucasus Affairs

Ibrahim Karagul, a famous Turkish journalist, wrote three columns between 2015 and 2016 in Yeni Şafak newspaper, which is considered among pro-government media, in which it issued an exaggerated warning to Islamic countries, especially Turkey itself, to keep a watchful eye on Iran's behaviors. The journalist believed that the Battle of Mecca would begin in the near future and Iranian tanks would attack the Kaaba. He also opined that Iran's foreign policy was aimed at reviving the Persian Empire, and with regard to the existing tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, he took sides with the policies of Saudi Arabia’s government while trying to offer a clean picture of Riyadh.

During the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, when military tanks started to roll in the streets of Istanbul and Ankara, Iran and Russia were among the first countries to defend the legal government in Turkey and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif lauded Turkish people for their strong resistance against coup plotters. During the same period of time, Turkey’s Arab allies, especially Saudi Arabia, were apparently waiting for the coup d’état to bear fruit and it was only after the failure of the coup attempt, which they declared their support for the Turkish government.

The articles written by Ibrahim Karagul were just part of a media current, which was launched by those Turkish media, which before the outbreak of the ongoing crisis in Syria were among supporters of the Islamic Republic. However, after the two countries came to loggerheads over the issue of Syria, they started to oppose the Islamic Republic by leveling various charges against it and in doing this they willingly or unwillingly ignored certain realities. For example, in the case of tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, they acted in such a way that as if it is Iran, which is trying to lay siege to Saudi Arabia and all regional plans carried out by Iran are aimed at putting pressure on Saudi Arabia.

Amid such negative propaganda, Turkish media sometimes went to such extremes that they introduced the kingdom of Saudi Arabia – which by no means conforms to democratic norms accepted by the entire world, including Turkey – as a desirable and democratic regime. A government like that of Saudi Arabia, which does not believe in elections, nor allows opposition parties and a real parliament to exist, was introduced by Turkish journalists as a democratic government while Iran was introduced as an ambitious and adventurist state. This media current also apparently turned a blind eye to the support provided by Takfiri groups mostly by certain politicians and other influential figures in Saudi Arabia.

In these articles, Iran was accused of such issues as launching an effort to revive the Persian Empire. However, a close look at Iran's social and political environment would reveal that the idea of Persian nationalism only represents a weak current in Iran, which has never been able to infiltrate into the main body of the Islamic Republic since the victory of the Islamic Revolution and has had no influence on decisions made by the political establishment in Iran.

The anti-Arrogance and anti-Israeli nature of the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy is an issue, which is intentionally ignored by some Turkish media circles, which resort to theoretical hypotheses, whose correctness has not been established yet, to show that Iran's foreign policy is in line with the policies of the United States and, in some cases, even with the policies of Israel. This comes at a time that all people in the world are witness to the fact that how the United States and Europe oppose Iran's inalienable rights, such as the country’s nuclear activities or missile program, and also see how Israel did its best to prevent achievement of a nuclear agreement between Iran and the West. For those who thought that Iran's differences with the United States and Israel are not real, the course of events has proven that despite the achievement of the nuclear deal, Americans are not willing to abide by their commitments toward Iran. They also see what hardships the Iranian people are suffering as a result of unjust sanctions imposed on the country and even economic exchanges between Iran and neighboring countries, which are among natural rights of these countries, have been impeded by these sanctions.

Therefore, under conditions when Iran is facing clear hostility of the arrogant world powers and some Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia have not only trampled on friendship criteria, but are also opposed to Iran's agreement with the West and seek continuation of tensions and crisis in the region, propagating anti-Iran propaganda in a country like Turkey, which at least enjoys a democratic structure, is source of great surprise.

During the recent coup attempt in Turkey, we clearly saw that the tanks did not start moving from Iran toward the Kaaba, but were moved into streets of Istanbul and Ankara by the agents of some suspicious countries. Also on the night of the coup, the people of Turkey did not hear a supporting voice from the rulers of the United States, Europe or Saudi Arabia, but they heard it from Iranian politicians who, like the people and statesmen in Turkey, stayed awake up to the morning.

Key WordsTanks, Istanbul, Turkey, Ibrahim Karagul, Yeni Şafak, Mecca, Persian Empire, Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Turkish Media, Democratic Government, Nuclear Agreement, Istanbul, Ankara, Vahedi

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*Photo Credit: CNN