Conflict & Justice

Can Turkey prevent a US war with Iran?


Iranian Soldiers aim during navy exercises in the Sea of Oman near the Iranian port of Bandar Jask, in southern Iran on Dec. 30, 2011.


Ali Mohammadi

JERUSALEM —Two Middle Eastern countries in flux will attempt to cement their fraught ties as Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu flies to Tehran today for “nuclear talks” with his Iranian counterparts.

Lebanon’s Daily Star reported that the two days of consultations will also address other issues of regional concern, such as “developments in Iran and Syria.”

In Israel, observers of Iran and of the deteriorating relations between Israel and Turkey are postulating that the visit may also indicate that Turkey is positioning itself as a potential go-between for Western countries hoping to deescalate tensions with Iran rather than find themselves obliged to impose crippling sanctions.

Meanwhile, Ha’aretz reported Wednesday that Iranian President Mahmood Ahmadinejahd has warned Israel that its “attempts to Judaicize” Jerusalem will lead to its demise.

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Addressing the Turkish-Palestinian Parliamentary Friendship Group meeting in Iran, Ahmadinejad was quoted by Iranian state television saying that the "Zionists, who have no faith in religion or even God, now claim piety and intend to take away the Islamic identity of the Holy Quds." (El-Quds is the name of Jerusalem in Arabic.)

"This ridiculous move is in fact the continuation of the colonialist polices of oppressors, which will not save the Zionist regime, but also take the regime closer to the endpoint of its existence,” the Iranian president added.

Iran's official news agency, IRNA, reported that Ahmadinejad added, "issue of Palestine is the main issue in the region and the whole world and nobody can ignore it."

On Tuesday, Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Ataollah Salehi, warned an American warship with military action should it return to its previous location in the Straights of Hormuz.

Escalating increasingly belligerent language directed at the United States, Salehi said, “We advise, recommend, and warn them that this aircraft carrier not return to its previous place in the Persian Gulf, because we are not used to repeating a warning and give a warning only once,” according to the Teheran Times.

A spokesman for the American Defense Department, Cmdr. Bill Speaks, declined to discuss future movements of the carrier, called the John C Stennis. He said that “the deployment of U.S. military assets in the Persian Gulf region will continue as it has for decades.”

The John C Stennis originally shipped out of the Straights of Hormuz, a critical byway for crude oil tankers, through which 40 percent of the world’s oil is shipped, about two weeks ago, to accommodate 10 days of naval exercises planned by the Iranian navy.

Salehi made his statement at a ceremony marking the successful completion of the exercises.

While the drills were taking place, Iranian officials threatened to shut down the Straights if Western powers impose more severe sanctions on its crude oil exports or its banks.

Also on Tuesday, the daughter of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Faezeh Hashemi, herself formerly a member of parliament and now a political activist whose views are considered close to those of the reformist Green movement, was sentenced to six months in jail for “making propaganda against the ruling system.”

The Guardian reported that Hashemi was most likely arrested due to an interview she gave to an opposition website, Roozonline in which she blamed regime supporters for harassing her in public.

She has been arrested twice before for her political activities.