AKP’s dilemma: Iran or Saudi Arabia

It is obvious that President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan no longer has a dilemma He unequivocally criticized Iran’s expansionist policies and asked Iran to withdraw its forces from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. Last year when ErdoIan visited Iran he said it was his second home.

Not a single politician in Turkish history has every made such a declaration. It seems that he has no hopes of having lucrative business relations with Iran or Iranian nationals such as Reza Zarrab, who helped

It is obvious that President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan no longer has a dilemma He unequivocally criticized Iran’s expansionist policies and asked Iran to withdraw its forces from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

Last year when ErdoIan visited Iran he said it was his second home. Not a single politician in Turkish history has every made such a declaration.

It seems that he has no hopes of having lucrative business relations with Iran or Iranian nationals such as Reza Zarrab, who helped Iran to bypass international sanctions with the help of the Turkish government officials for, of course, a price.

Yet the Justice and Development Party (AKP) is different.

It is still a diverse coalition. It is not as diverse as it was in its first and second terms, and it no longer hosts liberals and democrats, but it definitely has within it Ottomanist, Salafist, Iranist, Turkist and Kurdist cliques.

ErdoIan has so far managed them skilfully and sometimes played some of them against each other He occasionally acted too pro-Iran and sometimes too pro-Saudi, but he has now made his choice. There could be several reasons.

Financial matters, as I mentioned, could be one of them Pressure from the US is another reason. ErdoIan is afraid of a coup and you now hear many people from diverse backgrounds talking about how the army is not comfortable with the way the AKP is handling domestic and especially international problems.

ErdoIan is definitely aware of this and that is why he visited military officers last week in an attempt to convince them that it was the parallel state, not him, who imprisoned generals and tarnished the image of the army. He also knows that without a US green light, it is not so easy to stage coup, so he is looking for alliances in order to survive.

Of course, another very visible reason is the fact that he has had terrible relations with the Saudis since they fell out over the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) government in Egypt and the eventual cou Despite Iran’s staunch support of the brutal Bashar al-Assad regime, ErdoIan has tried to have good relations with Iran but it seems that the Saudis asked him to choose a side.

But what about the different cliques in the AKP? The AKP has already been suffering from different fractures within the party. Government speaker and deputy prime minister, Buumllent ArInccedil, has openly declared that pro-ErdoIan Ankara Mayor Melih Goumlkccedilek is corrupt, creating huge intraparty tension that will have future ramifications.

This quarrel actually stemmed from another ArInccedil, in not so many words, asked ErdoIan not to interfere with the business of the DavutoIlu government. As people know, DavutoIlu was publicly humiliated by ErdoIan on several issues, one of them being the corruption and transparency issue.

ErdoIan made DavutoIlu give up his proposal for a bill to ensure political transparency. ErdoIan said publicly that if DavutoIlu insisted on ensuring that politicians were not corrupt then he would be unable to get members to the party!

In the sermon this past Friday, the imams, who are salaried staff of the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), read a text which powerfully stated that illegally benefiting from the public purse is a sin.

We will see if ErdoIan defines this as an attempted coup against him by the Diyanet. But what we know is that the Diyanet is now under DavutoIlu’s control and DavutoIlu is sending concealed messages to ErdoIan.

In such a climate, we should expect real tension and a schism between pro-Iranian and pro-Salafi figures not only in the AKP and government, but also within the Diyanet, as a result of an Arab-Iranian clash. Turkey has to be above sectarian (Shia or Sunni, Persian or Salafi) politics and act carefully along the lines of international humanitarian standards in this crisis, but I doubt that the AKP has the capability or will to do that.

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN