A crucial visit to Turkey

The Iranian Chief of Staff, Major General Mohammad Baqeri, paid a crucial visit to Turkey on August 15-17 to exchange views with top officials in Turkey including President Erdogan, Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli and the Chief of the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces Hulusi Akar. What makes this visit important is that it is the first visit of a Chief of Staff to Turkey since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Additionally, the timing of the meeting is significant due to the ever-changing situation in Syria affecting the countries involved.  

The scope of the meetings varied from the decision of the Northern Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to hold an independence referendum, scheduled to take place on September 25, to counter terrorism and regional security. Even though Turkey and Iran have had their ups and downs due to being on the opposite sides of the Syrian Civil War, both countries and Russia took a major step at the end of 2016 at the Moscow Summit to establish a cease fire in Syria. The nexus was persistent in its endeavors and carried out the Astana talks and made progress for the first time in the ongoing conflict. Turkey and Iran have always been conscious of their responsibilities in the security of the region and they cooperated for the well-being of the innocent Muslims inhabiting the region despite being on conflicting sides. 

Regarding the referendum of Northern Iraq, voters living in Northern Iraq will be asked whether they want an independent Kurdistan. Consisting of a single question, the referendum no doubt brings with it concerns respecting its possible repercussions, despite the fact that the IKRG authorities claim otherwise. A similar popular vote took place in 2005, but what makes this one different is that this will be an official and binding vote. More importantly, it is perhaps the last step before the KRG formally secedes from Iraq and this will result in the fragmentation of the country.  Given the current situation in the region, another conflict or national breakdown is the last thing anyone needs. Therefore, both Iranian and Turkish officials strongly oppose this poll by insisting on the unitary structure of Iraq.  

Another important topic discussed with Major General Baqeri was the common enemy of both countries: The PKK terrorist organization. The very same terrorist group goes by the name PJAK when operating in Iran. As a matter of fact, the USA has been supplying ammunition to the same terrorist group fighting in Syria, where they use the name PYD and the YPG is its armed wing. Even though the US lists the PKK in their terrorist list, they distinguish the PYD/YPG groups, which serve the same agenda. In an interview in 2013, Osman Öcalan, the brother of the PKK’s leader Abdullah Öcalan, stated the following:

“I founded the PYD, as I did PJAK (the PKK's Iranian arm). We did not use the word "Kurdistan" in the party's title since we did not want to provoke the Syrian regime. The PYD is connected to the PKK, and acts upon on PKK orders. We founded the PYD in Qandil. We held the first general PYD congress in October 2003. We trained the cadres in Qandil.”

In the last two months alone, the US has supplied more than 1,000 trailer trucks of arms to these terrorist organizations. One of the important outcomes of the meeting with Major General Baqeri is that Iran and Turkey agreed to exchange military intelligence in the fight against this terrorist organization, which has caused the deaths of 40,000 people in Turkey since 1977. A few days prior to the meetings with Iran’s top military official, the construction of a wall - expected to be 144 km long - started along the Iran-Turkey border. The reason for erecting this wall is to secure the border from the violent operations of the PKK/PJAK. These terrorists not only perpetrate bloody actions, but are also intervening in the trade between the two countries by either preventing it or slowing it down.

In the Syria conflict, all eyes are on Idlib province, since it has become home to several jihadist groups. The armed group of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which is dominated by a former al-Qaeda affiliate, took control of the city as rival rebel group Ahrar Al-Sham withdrew; HTS and Ahrar al-Sham were once allies and fought alongside each other to capture most of  Idlib province from Syrian government forces in 2015. Following the US’s Rakka operation, Idlib is considered the next move. Since Idlib is a threat to all of Syria and the neighboring countries, it is probable that Iran and Turkey will join forces to protect themselves from jihadist groups infiltrating their borders following a possible maneuver.

The Russian Chief of Staff’s announcement of a visit to Turkey in a few days time is considered to strengthen the cooperation of Iran and Turkey, which will play a significant role in ending the conflict in Syria. Many analysts interpret Turkey’s approach to Iran and Russia as a shift from the Western Allies and from NATO. However, Iran has been our brother country for centuries and we share a border, unchanged for more than 300 years. Iran was on our side during the night of the bloody coup attempt and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif followed up the situation with his Turkish counterpart till the morning. The Russian President also showed his support immediately, while the Western allies were indifferent and did not even denounce the attempt until it had failed. Turkey will always remember their loyalty at such a time of hardship.

It is crucial to form an alliance of Turkey, Iran and Russia to cease the conflict that resulted the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians Such a union will make a great contribution to help restructure the warzones and bring stability to the region after the area is cleared from the fighting. These three countries will gain great benefits from this bond and this will influence other countries to step up and make every effort for the security of the region.

Adnan Oktar's piece in Tehran Times

2017-08-20 17:40:49

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