This paper examines the complex relations that have developed among Turkey, Israel and Iran since the Gulf War in 1990 in terms of the political balances in the region, armament and human rights problems, the question of the Palestinians, and the isolation of Iran from the international system as well as considering how regional and global policies have been affected. Keeping in mind the fact that foreign policy behaviors rarely follow the model of rational choice, this paper will attempt to make a long-term analysis based on this period despite the difficulty involved.
In the period since the Gulf War, Middle East politics have changed significantly, and with the greater autonomy of the Turkish-speaking areas of the former USSR, interest has shifted towards the north. The scenario accepted by the majority of the experts studying this area of the world has been that there will be a new competition in this northern tier of the Middle East, bringing disputes in this region, and that the main actors in the new struggles will be Iran, Turkey and the Russian Federation. A strategic fact that this scenario has left out, or neglected, is that the process of political determination in this region will not be easy since unexpected elements are bound to enter into the equation.
Another important development since the Gulf War and the establishment of the new republics has been the happenings related to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process since the 1991 Madrid Conference. 1993 saw the signing of an agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis and, 1994, an agreement between Jordan and Israel. The peace process has obviously modified the political equation in the Middle East and brought about important changes and developments in relations within and outside of the region. However, with the right-wing government of Netanyahu, which came into power in Israel at a critical time, the positive developments did not last long, and the chance for the normalization of Israel's relations with at least some of the Arab countries was lost given Netanyahu's policies, which violated the peace process.
Turkey and Iran have also been going through fundamental changes nearly as important as the peace process in terms of determining regional policies. In Iran, following the election of the moderate Mohammad Khatami as president, expectations of greater liberalization have been raised in domestic politics while a "democratic peace" discourse has become dominant in Iran's foreign policy. Iran is also witnessing increased tension between liberals and conservatives in the country. As for Turkey, the removal of the Islamic Welfare party from office and the increasingly powerful role of the army have been important developments in domestic politics, while the suspension of relations with the European Union (EU), the speedy development of relations with the United States, and the apprehension of the leader of the PKK (Kurdish Worker's party) after a 15-year armed struggle are important developments in Turkey's foreign policy.
Among these three significant players in the Middle East, a complex network of relations has emerged. It is even quite difficult to describe the nature of these relations and determine the breaks and continuities in them given the complex way they have developed in such a short time. In all three countries, the discourse of the foreign-policy elite tends to dramatize threats originating from imaginary or real enemies because it needs to renew itself or establish legitimacy in domestic affairs. Of course, even though the perceived threats to national interests might not be totally imaginary, they constitute material that can be manipulated by the administrative elites, with the threats frequently exaggerated. In time, as the initial contexts are forgotten, the arguments gain a life of their own. Another natural outcome of this situation is that foreign policy becomes an extension of domestic politics and suffers under this yoke.
THE POLITICAL (IM)BALANCES
In order to gain important clues to the dynamics of the relations among Turkey, Israel and Iran, let's first consider the attitudes in the Middle East in general towards Israel. These attitudes have undergone important changes since the day Israel was founded, mostly due to changing images of Israel in the eyes of its neighbors. These changing images have led to three different attitudes. The first is particularly relevant for those neighbors who give priority to Islamic sensitivities. They favor struggling against the Tel Aviv government until Israel is abolished, something the Arabs have failed to accomplish. The second attitude is based on realistic observations of the existing situation and focuses on protecting and developing national interests under whatever conditions prevail. The third attitude involves attempting to get on well with Israel, in that Israel is a very successful country in terms of its military, economic and technological development and that getting on well with Israel will lead to good political relations with the United States, as well.1 In the period following the 1991 Madrid Conference, the widespread belief was that the last attitude would finally prevail in the Middle East. However, when the peace turned "cold" with Netanyahu, the second attitude became more dominant. The first one, which has the fewest supporters, is adopted only by Iran as its official state policy, by some non-governmental organizations and by extremist organizations in the Middle East.
Iran's administrative elites claim that Israeli Zionists try to create problems between Iran and other Muslim countries using all possible methods. They argue that the reason for this is that the Islamic revolution in Iran is perceived as an important obstacle harming the interests of global Zionism.2 Taking this argument a step further, they emphasize that Zionists have a long-term goal in mind of weakening all Muslim countries. 3 Demonstrating this attitude, the Tehran government seriously protested at an international forum the speech made in December 1997 by Edward Walker, appointed at that time the U.S. ambassador to Israel, in which he stated that Iran was responsible for the killing of 60 tourists in Egypt a month earlier. Later, when the U.S. State Department explained that the speech did not reflect the truth, Tehran argued that a Zionist conspiracy was the reason for Walker's speech.4
Iranian policy makers also claim that unless all Muslim countries mobilize all their resources against Israel, it will continue to violate human rights and international laws. 5 Although Iran is now liberalizing its government administration and discussing "democratic peace" in its foreign policy, it would be too optimistic to expect that its policies towards Israel will soften. This is because Iran tends to regard all of Tel Aviv's failures and losses as its own successes, creating a security dilemma in its relations with Israel. For example, the Doha Conference that took place in 1998 was described by Iran as a "Zionist congress," and the small number of participants who attended was viewed as the result of Iran's successful regional policies. 6
In the period since the signing of the Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement in Oslo in 1993, Iran has had to face the realities in the region in its foreign policy and radicalize its discourse in domestic politics. The resulting dilemma is that, although Iran is reluctant to spoil the peace process, it is faced with the impossibility of approving of it. According to Mahmood Saryolghalam of the Tehran Shehid Beheshti University, what has occurred is the outcome of Iran's desire to project a more moderate image to other countries with the need to gain ideological support inside its own borders.7 R. K. Ramazani, one of the leading experts on Iran's foreign policy, sums up Iran's dilemma in his statement that Iran's policy toward the peace process is one in which "Iranian radicals seem more Catholic than the Pope."8
From Iran's perspective, Turkey has distanced itself from the Muslim world by recently signing a military treaty with Israel, and relations particularly deteriorated with the military operation entitled "Reliant Mermaid" (January 1998), in which Turkey, Israel and the United States participated and Jordan held observer status. At the time, the media in Iran began emphasizing repeatedly that Ankara should give up placing itself in anti-Islamic blocs and join the group of Muslim countries, its real friends. The media argument referred to the fact that Turkey had not even been placed in the list of EU candidates in Luxembourg and stated that the West was actually not the reliable partner that Turkish administrators might think it was.9
Moreover, Tehran has become anxious because of the increasingly powerful role and impact of the Turkish army in domestic politics in the issue of Northern Iraq. Iran's assumption that senior officers in the Turkish army might support the idea of invading some parts of Northern Iraq, allegedly put forward by nationalists in Turkey, has caused Tehran to keep Turkey's policies in the region under scrutiny.10 Iran has also noted that the presence of Israeli specialists in the region during Turkey's operations in Northern Iraq and Tel Aviv's involvement in the conflict could result in regional imbalances. Iran's main concern is that Syria might be forced to give concessions and that, as a result, the Iran-Syria bloc would be weakened.11 The Iranian administration has blamed Ankara for letting its own lands be used as Israel's backyard and has stated that Israeli specialists might also be watching the Iranian border. According to Tehran's view of things, this situation is threatening not only the national security of Ankara, but also that of all the countries in the region. In short, Iran is accusing Turkey of stabbing Iran and other Islamic countries in the back.
Theoretically, the Madrid Framework has created an ideal atmosphere for Turkey to improve its relations with Israel and join new projects for economic cooperation in the region. However, Iran's anxiety increased even further when signals were given that this economic cooperation could also include Azerbaijan. From Turkey's point of view, it is merely improving its relations with Israel and setting a strategy for Syria, but to the Iranians, Israel has Iran in mind when it cooperates with Turkey. In a region where there has always been a tendency for conflict and where both Turkey and Israel have serious problems, cooperation offers opportunities, but from Israel's perspective, cooperation with Turkey would also be useful for its geo-cultural integration into the region, while cooperation including Azerbaijan could help or accelerate Israel's expansion into the former Soviet republics' markets.12
Ever-increasing visits paid by top Turkish and Israeli officials since 1993 are evidence of the improvement in relations between Tel Aviv and Ankara. From Turkey's point of view, relations with Israel could help Turkey gain Israel's technology and know-how and, even more important, solve security issues such as the monitoring of PKK activities and the upgrading of its weapons. Other areas where economic cooperation would be valuable include irrigation, agriculture and tourism. Moreover, there is a widespread belief that friendship with Israel would mean greater support from the United States. However, it is doubtful whether Jewish lobbies in Washington, whose support is particularly important to military circles, would use their influence to protect Turkish interests. Among the leading Jewish lobbying groups that have actively contributed to the development of Turkish-Israeli relations are AIPAC, the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee, JINSA, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, and WINEP, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.13 Although their activities include some initiatives that overlap with Turkish interests, these initiatives are mainly the policies of American right-wing conservatives, and they are not put forward by the lobbies themselves. From time to time, it is also seen that conservative organizations such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Heritage Foundation take braver attitudes in Turkey's favor.14 In short, the pro-Israeli lobbies are making efforts to steer U.S. policies toward the Middle East and Turkey in a way that serves Israeli interests and that maximizes Tel Aviv's regional benefits. They do this by carrying out studies and presenting lectures that Turkish administrators are informed of.
It should be noted that both Israel and Turkey have been criticized for improving their relations with each other. For example, Greece and Armenia have criticized Israel for cooperating with Turkey. In addition, an article that appeared in the Jerusalem Post's March 1, 1999 issue emphasized that Israel's cooperation with Turkey was a complete foreign-policy failure and that Tel Aviv had entered into a dangerous process given the reactions Israel was facing from Kurds, who had never been a problem for Israel before.15 What happened was that in the period following the development of security relations between Israel and Turkey, the PKK threatened to organize attacks against Israel, and later, after speculations concerning the role Israeli intelligence played in the apprehension of PKK leader Abdulla Ocalan began circulating, it attacked several Israeli embassies worldwide. As for Turkey, it was severely criticized at the meeting of the Organization of Islamic Countries, the OIC, which took place in Tehran at the end of 1997. Facing such harsh criticism, President Demirel left the conference one day early.16 In the past, however, such as during the period when Turgut Ozal was president, he was invited to and led the OIC conference so that measures to deal with the Bosnian crisis could be formulated.
The main reason Turkey has become alienated from other Islamic countries is that the peace process turned into a "cold peace." As expressed by the Le Monde Diplomatique's editor, Alain Gresh, Turkey has been forced to choose sides in the dispute between Israel and Syria and Iran.17 Iran, on the other hand, has hosted an Islamic summit toward the end of 1997 and entered into a positive process of improving relations with some Arab countries. If the regional political balances are to be kept in mind, there is good reason for Turkey to cooperate with rather than struggle against Iran. In the final analysis, Ankara should not keep its relations with Tehran under the yoke of its relations with other countries. Otherwise, Turkey will be at a disadvantage considering the increasing power of Iran in the region. In fact, Turkish foreign-policy makers have given positive signals that they will not neglect regional balances, and recent positive developments should be perceived as steps taken accordingly. The visit to Egypt in March 1998 by Turkey's foreign minister, Ismail Cem, during which he expressed his determination to improve relations with the Middle Eastern Muslim countries and Turkey's desire to take a more active role in regional politics, raised Tehran's expectations.18
What seems obvious from this discussion is that Turkey could play a role as a mediator between Iran and Israel. The most reasonable initiative would first be to identify entities in Iran that are likely to favor such a process. If Iranian groups willing to change the status quo in relations with Israel can be found, then more steps could be taken. Although hostility to such a change by Iranians in general is not likely to be a problem, politicians might find it unacceptable to take steps to improve relations with Tel Aviv (or even decrease propaganda against it). There is, however, the likelihood that once Tehran has smoothed over its tensions with Washington an Israeli-Iranian rapprochement could take place. Paradoxically, the most important obstacle to the improvement of relations between Israel and Iran is the negative campaign of Jewish lobbies against Iran. The main problem is not "Islamic fundamentalism" as some have observed. The problem is simply that Iran insistently opposes the peace process and that it is the only state actively struggling against the expansion of Israel into Jerusalem. In support of this argument was the claim by the Netanyahu government that it had no problem with Islam and even invited German chancellor Helmut Kohl to become a mediator in negotiations to persuade Iran to reduce terrorist attacks on Israel.19
ARMAMENT AND HUMAN-RIGHTS PROBLEMS
The Iranian government continually repeats that its nuclear-energy research is of a peaceful nature and under the surveillance of the International Agency for Atomic Energy (IAEA). Moreover, Iran has signed this organization's agreements prohibiting the production of nuclear weapons and the storing of chemical weapons. Iran has also signed the Nonproliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The Iranian foreign minister has also underlined the fact that his country is loyal to these treaties and that it could, if required, take up the role of mediator in the armaments dispute between Pakistan and India.20 Iran also maintains that the bomb produced by Pakistan has nothing to do with Iran and that it is a mistake to regard the production of such a bomb as an "Islamic bomb."21 Iranians also argue that behind the American propaganda against Iran lies Iran's denial of support to Israel and that the instability in the region caused by the Zionist regime is hidden.22 Another point made in this context is that Israel has become a significant nuclear power in the region, with the production of more than 200 nuclear weapons, and that Israel has not signed the agreements mentioned above.
As for Israel, it claims that the weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons they allege Iran produces pose a fatal threat to Israel.23 Thus, the Israeli government has begun taking measures to prevent China, the Russian Federation and North Korea, who could provide the necessary technology to Iran, from aiding Iran in the production of such weapons.24 However, the Iranian administration has stated that the Shahab-3 missiles tested by Iran in August 1998 do not constitute any threat to the region and that they are mainly for defensive purposes. After the spokesperson for the Pentagon made a statement claiming that the Shahab-3 missiles were perceived as a threat by Israel, Turkey and the United States, the Turkish Foreign Ministry indicated that these missiles did not constitute any threat to Turkey.25 Regarding terrorist activities, Muhammad Khatami, the president of Iran, during his visit to Italy reiterated that terrorist actions against individuals or states supported by governments are not acceptable at all in his country.26 It seems that Iran, particularly in the most recent period, is distancing itself from government supported terrorism in spite of its dark past. Interestingly, Israel has a rather full list of crimes compared to Iran in this respect.
THE PALESTINIAN QUESTION 27
On the subject of what is happening to the Palestinians, the Iranian government claims that there are certain administrators in the United States who are aware of the problems created by Israel in the region and of the problematic nature of the policies against Tehran. However, in the view of the Iranian policy makers and even some Americans, the powerful organizations supporting Israel in America and the supporters of Israel in the American administration and the Congress prevent the establishment of rational policies. In addition, the success of the peace process was put into question, given former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's nonconstructive manner and the Clinton administration's failure to bring the Israeli side to the negotiating table. Not only did the Netanyahu government delay withdrawal from the West Bank, but it allowed the establishment of new Israeli settlements. This behavior, which was in obvious violation of U.N. resolutions, served as one of the reasons the peace process came to be called a "cold peace."28
Although the Israeli elections bringing to power a new prime minister, Ehud Barak, have increased hopes for a peaceful solution, as of spring 2000 there have not been many positive developments. The Iranian government maintains that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a problem for the whole Muslim world and that the present political elites are neglecting the problem for various invalid reasons.29 The size of the group that Iran is addressing can be understood if one considers both the strong sympathy for Palestinians and the anti-Zionist tendency among ordinary people in almost all Muslim countries. 30 A day called "Jerusalem Day" was proposed in Khomeini's time and noted ever since in Muslim countries, which is certainly very meaningful. However, it is still not possible to claim that Iran has attracted much of an audience in the international arena with these initiatives. It can even be argued that the Iranians' main aim is to promote the image of a government that protects the interests of the "umma" (the Muslim community) against international Zionism for the sake of domestic politics and thereby gains sustained support among the Iranian people.
As for Iranian government policies concerned with the Palestinian question, Iran knows that Israel's worst nightmare is that a second Iran may emerge right next door.31 Thus, to increase the Israelis' anxiety, Iran supports Islamist groups and organizations among Palestinians and in other countries in the region. It goes without saying that the groups being supported pursue anti-Israeli policies and activities. A senior official in the Hizbollah organization backs up the point made here about Tehran's policy: "For Iran to stop supporting Hizbollah, the United States would have to stop sending weapons and money to Israel."32
Also of interest to the Iranian government was the July 1997 decision by the U.S. Congress to recognize Jerusalem as the indivisible and unchangeable capital of Israel and allocate $100 million to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. This violated all U.N. resolutions regarding the status of that city. This situation created a chance for Iran to justify its position in the international arena. The Iranian government was able to claim that the current congressional decision, along with others such as the Iran-Libya sanctions act proposed by then Senator Alphonse D' Amato (R-NY), indicated that the U.S. Congress was following policies that supported Israel and that U.S. Middle East policy served only the interests of Tel Aviv.33
Finally, there was the visit to Iran in May 1998 of Sheikh Ahmed Yasin, the leader of the main Palestinian Islamic resistance organization, Hamas, Barakat Al-Muqavama al-Islamiyye, who was welcomed to Iran by senior Iranian officials. His visit was particularly important, as it shows the extent of the support Iran gives to this organization. Ayatollah Khamenei, who received Yasin, indicated that Iran supported the just cause of the Palestinians, that Iran was proud of contributing as much as it could to the Palestinian' s armed struggle, and that Iran would continue its support. He also emphasized that Iran's policy should not be regarded as supporting terrorism but was instead support for the just struggle of a nation against an invading state. He added that actual terrorism was what the Israeli government was carrying out, that is, tearing people away from their homes and lands and eliminating enemies residing in other countries.34
From the perspective of the Turkish side, Ankara pursued a pro-Palestinian attitude toward the Palestinian question from the 1950s to the 1990s, though it became the first Muslim country to recognize Israel. Turkey has been in favor of the progress toward peace between Arabs and Israel. The following official statement of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs reflects Turkey's preference:
By taking maximum advantage of close historical and traditional ties with brotherly Arabic countries and the people of Palestine, as well as existing good relations with Israel, Turkey shall continue to contribute to the success of the peace process.... Our government, within the framework of U.N. Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, sincerely supports a solution that would safeguard all rights of the people of Palestine, including the right to establish their own state, liberate Arab territories under occupation and guarantee the existence of all countries of the region within secure boundaries.35
However, since 1993, Turkey has distanced itself from the Palestinian question, if one ignores Turkish officials' symbolic visits to the Palestinian autonomous areas. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in his 1999 visit to Turkey complained about Turkey's stance and invited it to take a greater role in providing a just and lasting peace in the region.36 The close relations with Israel represent official Turkey's decision; the "other" Turkey does not share this view. Turkey's official pro-Western identity rejects traditional and Islamic values at home and Islamic regimes abroad as threats to its long march forward in the process of Westernization. In this context, Turkish decision makers have the idea that close relations with Israel are a positive move toward the West. In comparison with official Turkey, Islamic elites favor a more assertive foreign policy. The Islamic elite clamors for ever-greater solidarity with Islamic groups abroad and projects Turkey as a potential leader of the Islamic world. The vanguard of Turkish political Islam, formerly known as the Refah (Welfare) party, went so far as to call for a new organization called the Developing Eight (D-8) of Islamic countries as an alternative to the Western-oriented club of industrialized nations, the Group of Seven (G-7). They pay particular attention to the Palestinian question and try to mobilize support both in Turkey and abroad.37
THE ISOLATION OF IRAN FROM THE INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM
With the fall of the Soviet Union, the Iranian regime has been regarded as the only active revisionist country, though with limited power, challenging the United States.38 Actually, the present situation is far more complex than it seems. Since the first years after the Iranian Revolution, the Iranian government has viewed opposing the United States to be in its national interest. From Tehran's point of view, Washington is pursuing hostile policies and creating difficulties for Iran and its interests in the Middle East and other regions. According to R. K. Ramazani, American decision makers are perceived by Tehran as following an atrocious policy of spreading propaganda against Iran using pretexts such as reducing the world's nuclear stockpile and ending human-rights violations.39 Also, based on the U.S. policy of "dual containment" of Iran and Iraq, Iran has faced an embargo, exclusion from joining the agreement (called the "deal of the century") setting up an important international oil consortium that will process and distribute part of the oil from Azerbaijan, and the cancellation of its agreement with the American oil company Conoco. These occurrences have only reinforced the Iranians' radical anti-American stance.40 As they see it, the problems U.S. policy makers emphasize are Iran's support of terrorism, opposition to Israel and the peace process, and the buildup of weapons of mass destruction and armaments in general. Thus, if Iran takes initiatives to alter or end these policies, it will be difficult for the United States to pursue its containment policy against Iran.
In fact, efforts in these areas are being made behind the scenes, especially since the election of Muhammed Khatami as president. Influential intellectuals in the United States such as Eric Hooglund, R.K. Ramazani, Shahram Chubin, Jahangir Amuzegar, Gary Sick and Zbigniew Brzezinski now support dialogue with Iran. Also, in December 1997, the Iranian president indicated his approval of dialogue between "Iran and the great American nation" and repeated this view on February 7, 1998, in an interview on CNN. Although Khatami in that interview only discussed dialogue between the two nations, it did raise hopes that the 20 years of hostility between the "Great Satan" and the "Rogue State" might soon end. According to another expert on Iran, Jahangir Amuzegar, some friendly signals have been received from Washington. These include implied U.S. approval of the Turkmenistan-Iran Turkey gas pipeline, the inclusion of the "Mojahedeen-i Khalq," an organization opposed to Iran's Islamic government, in the U.S. State Department's list of terrorist organizations, and signs from Washington that it will not oppose the $2-billion agreement signed by Tehran and the French oil company Total.41
The U.S. policy of isolating Iran is also seriously challenged by the European Union (EU), particularly by the Western European states. European countries have long favored a "critical dialogue" aimed at influencing Iran to refrain from human rights abuses and other practices. However, with the Mykonos case, in which senior Iranian officials were associated with a political assassination, a case debated in German courts, the EU Group of Foreign Ministers declared in an April 1997 decision that visits with Iran at the ministerial level would be suspended, that the ban on weapons sales to Iran would continue, and that the EU would not issue visas to Iranian security and intelligence employees.42 The Group, however, did not suspend the "critical dialogue" or economic relations. Then, after Khatami came into power in February 1998, the Group canceled its ban on ministry-level visits because they wanted to empower the liberals in Tehran. 43 Significant obstacles to the development of relations with Iran remain: the Rushdie problem, Iran's opposition to the Middle East peace process, the U.S. Iran conflict and the Mykonos case.44
Despite Iran's being isolated to some extent, it has been successful in retaining good relations with France and Italy, in particular. When European ministerial visits to Tehran resumed, the main obstacle in the development of relations with Iran, the U.S.-Iran conflict, was challenged. France disapproved of the D' Amato decisions, which paved the way for the $2-billion oil agreement with Total, the biggest agreement Iran has made since the Revolution, the release of Masoud Hindi, who worked for Iranian intelligence, and the organization of senior-level visits. With these decisions France has shown how much it values Iran.45 As for Iran's relations with Italy, they have gone as far as President Khatami's visiting Italy in March 1999 and his meeting with the Pope during his visit. Moreover, there are also significant trade relations between the two countries.46
Although Iran is currently having problems in its relations with Germany, the two had developed good relations, especially from 1990-95, a golden period. In those five years, there were six visits made by German and Iranian foreign ministers. With the Mykonos case and the German prosecutor's accusations in l 996 as well as the final decision by the German court in 1997 that the Iranian administration was associated with an assassination committed within German borders, relations have deteriorated.47 Despite these problems, Iran is quickly getting closer to Europe, and it has declared publicly that policies to contain or isolate it have not succeeded.
During this period of Iran's relative isolation, Turkey has been a close ally of the United States, as it has been for the entire second half of the twentieth century. An expert on Turkey (despite following secondary sources), John Tirman, who works for the Winston Foundation for World Peace, is worth quoting to provide a typical opinion of Turkey: "Having a big, modem army and educated, West-oriented elites, and being one of the most promising markets in the world, Turkey seems to be an ally made in heaven." 48 Of course, Iran is not comfortable with a neighbor that is a close ally of its enemy in the international arena. Iran perceives Turkey as "Westoxicated," heavily influenced by the United States, given its Western and secular tendencies. Supporting this view, Turkey has taken a leading role in preventing the expansion of "Islamic fundamentalism" in the newly autonomous Central Asian and Caucasian republics, now being supported and prized in an "alleged" Turkish-Iranian competition. Regarding the Central Asian and Caucasian republics, U.S. policy has been to decrease Russia's and Iran's influence in the region by making use of potential controversies between Russia and Turkey and between Turkey and Iran. By doing so it is fostering instability in the newly broadened Middle East region. Also during this period, Iran has become closer to the European countries, and Europe has been increasing its influence and authority regarding the peace process.49 Adding Turkey's cooperation with Israel to the equation, one could say that Turkey has indexed its short- and medium-term foreign policies to the United States, and it has agreed to undertake a Washington-supported regional power mission.
However, despite Turkey's close links to the United States, Turkish foreign policy has essentially developed in a way similar to that of the EU. For instance, Turkey did not place an embargo on Iran after the embassy crisis in 1979, and this policy proved to be very fruitful, in that Turkey improved its trade relations with Iran during the eighties. As Harvey Sicherman of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, one of the most influential think tanks in the United States, points out, the "dual containment" policy has neglected Turkey's interests. And the American government has not seemed to be very concerned about formulating a policy to compensate Turkey's losses such as those resulting from the termination of the Turkish-Iraqi pipeline.50 Traditionally, the Turkish foreign-policy elite has tried to pursue policies based on a motto of Ataturk, the founder of modem Turkey, "peace at home, peace in the world." This elite generally appears moderate, even somewhat shy, in the management of foreign policy. The military in Turkey is largely in charge of foreign affairs with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs playing a subordinate role. Turkey's single house of parliament, the Turkish Grand National Assembly, is the only legislative body with any input whatsoever in the development of foreign policies.51 It should be noted that the increasing power of the Turkish army in determining foreign policy does not necessarily mean a decrease in flexibility in the shaping of regional policies, given the differing regimes and ideological world views in Iran and Turkey.
From Ankara's point of view, the only way to stay ahead of any change in Iran's regional status is to develop initiatives that bring together Iran and the West in general and Iran and the United States in particular. During his visit to Tehran in August 1997, Necmettin Erbakan, then the Turkish prime minister and leader of the Islamist Welfare party, expressed ideas about the possibility of starting a dialogue between Iran and the United States, but these have remained mainly speculations.52 Turkey's ability to fulfill its wish to be "a bridge between the East and the West" and to play the mediator role between the United States, Iran and Iraq is diminished because Turkey continues the self-enforced role of "intimate stranger" in its relations with Arab countries in general. It also has bilateral problems with some of them.
Turkey, Iran and Israel play important roles in the Middle East region. The foreign policies implemented by these states are so important that they affect not only their own countries, but also regional and global balances. In the period following the 1993 Palestinian-Israeli Oslo peace agreement, changes in the region's political balances have resulted. They include the increased power of Iran in the region and the lessening of its isolation in international politics as well as the creation of a new axis, given the increased U.S.-supported cooperation between Turkey and Israel. This cooperation has also been the cause of a series of negative outcomes that may exceed the obvious positive results. Both countries have faced not only negative domestic reactions, but also the deterioration of their relations with other countries in the region and with EU countries. In the final analysis, it can be argued that Washington should be reviewing its policies after it recognizes the negative results of the Israeli-Turkish alliance.
A second conclusion that can be reached is that the "security first" approach based on the perception of a pure balance of power may lead to the formulation of problematic and inflexible foreign policies that cannot be adapted to the regional and global changes that occur in the middle to long run. Foreign-policy elites should be aware of the fact that the policy-formulation process includes multiple variables, that any a priori and external attribution of state identity is invalid, and that such an identity will in turn serve to restrain the ability to cope with change in the context of international politics. Thus, Turkey and Israel need to revise and redefine their bilateral relations taking into consideration other variables involved. The Tel Aviv administration, in particular, should take initiatives to move the peace process along more seriously. Israel has to recognize that the prerequisite for its legitimate existence in the region is an independent Palestinian state. Iranian elites should pursue liberalization attempts at home and democratic peace initiatives in its foreign policy. In sum, the following comment made by Kemal Karpat on the Baghdad Pact is also relevant for the emerging axis in the Middle East: "There is hardly any other alliance in the recent history of foreign affairs as unnecessary, ineffectual and harmful to all parties as the Baghdad Pact. Indeed, it caused immense harm to the Western interests in the area.... [I]t stimulated the rise of radical ideologies and cast Turks in the image of docile tool of Western power." 53
1 Ma'ariv (Shabat Supplement), May 22, 1998, p. 15.
2 Tehran Iran News, December 25, 1997, p. 2.
3 Jomhuri-ye Eslami, December 18, 1997, p. 11.
4 Tehran Iran News, op. cit.
5 IRNA, 1434 GMT, March 21, 1998.
6 Jomhuri-ye Eslami, December 16, 1997, pp. JO, 16.
7 Mahmood Sariolghalam, 'The Future of the Middle East: The Impact of the Northern Tier," Security Dialogue, Vol. 27, No. 3, 1996, p. 314.
8 K. Ramazani, "Iran's Foreign Policy: Both North and South," Middle East Journal, Vol. 46, No. 3, Summer 1992, p. 412.
9 IRNA, 0819 GMT, January 6, 1998.
10 Jomhuri-ye Eslami, December 18, 1997, p. 11
12 Bulent Aras, "Post-Cold War Realities: Israel's Strategy in Azerbaijan and Central Asia," Middle East Policy, Vol. 5, No. 1, 1998, p. 68.
13 For detailed activities by these lobbies, see the Internet addresses http://www.jinsa.org, http:// www.aipac.organdhttp://www.washingtoninstitute.org, respectively. Particularly, WINEP has established a section entitled Turkish Studies managed by Alan Makovsky and has hosted a large group of people including top state officials, academicians, military staff and journalists.
14 For more information about the Heritage Foundation and the CSIS, see the Internet addresses http://www.heritage.organdhttp://www.csis.org, respectively.
15 Thomas O'Dwyer, "Dangerous Liaisons," Jerusalem Post, March 1, 1999.
16 For a comprehensive discussion on this topic, see Bulent Aras, Kemal Kirici and Barry Rubin, "Informal Roundtable on Recent Events in Turkey," Meria Journal, Vol. 2, No. 2, 1998.
17 Alain Gresh, "Turkish-Israeli-Syrian Relations and their Impact on the Middle East," Middle East Journal, Vol. 52, No. 3, 1998, pp. 188-203.
18 MENA, 2240 GMT, March 22, 1998.
19 Ha'aretz, November I 0, 1996.
20 IRNA, 2217 GMT, June 6, 1998.
21 Jerusalem Channel 2 Television Network, 1700 GMT, June 19, 1998.
22 !RNA, 1708 GMT, January 26, 1998.
23 Interfax, 1922 GMT, March 3, 1998.
24 Barry Rubin, "China's Middle East Strategy," Meria Journal, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1999.
25 !RNA, 1203 GMT, August 6, 1998.
26 Tehran Times, March 3, 1998, pp. 4, 15.
27 What is meant by "the Palestinian Question" is the problem exported by Europe to the Middle East, for which Palestinian Arabs, who were not related in any way to any of the anti-Jewish activities observed in history, have been paying the price since. For one of the most comprehensive studies on this topic, see M. Liitfullah Karaman, Uluslararasy Ylifakiler Cykmazynda Filistin Sorunu [The Palestinian conflict in the cul-de-sac of international affairs] (Istanbul: Yz Yayyncylyk, 1991 ).
28 Tehran Times, January 24, 1998, p. 4
29 IRNA, 1708 GMT, op. cit.
30 M. Lutfullah Karaman, “Ortado Ôda Devlet Yapýsýnýn Çarpýklýôýna Demokrasi Penceresinden Kýsa Bir Bakýp” [A brief look from the window of democracy at the distorted structure of the states in the Middle East], Islam, May I 996, p. 43.
31 Al-Jazirah, February 27, 1998, p. 3.
33 Kayhan International, April 26, 1998, p. 2.
34 This information was obtained from personal correspondence with the experts working in the Iranian Strategic Center called IPIS in Tehran, June 21-27, 1999.
35 Bulent Aras, Palestinian-Israeli Peace Process and Turkey (Commack, NY: Nova Science Pub., 1998), p. 130.
36 Interview with the officials in the Palestinian embassy in Ankara, November 4, 1999.
37 Interview with Bulent Arynfi:, member of parliament and a leading figure in Fazilet (Virtue) party, reincarnation of closed Refah party, during a seminar in Nevsehir, November 5, 1999.
38 Henri J. Barkey, "Iran and Turkey: Confrontation Across an Ideological Divide," in Regional Power Rivalries in the New Eurasia: Russia, Turkey and Iran, eds. Alvin Z. Rubinstein and Oles M. Smolansky (Armonk NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1995), p. 148.
39 Ramazani, p. 423.
40 Sariolghalam, p. 3 IO.
41 Jahangir Amuzegar, "Iran under New Management," SAIS Review, Vol. 18, No. I, 1998, p. 81.
42 The New York Times, April 30, 1997.
43 Financial Times, February 24, 1998, p. 2.
44 Mohammed Reza Saidabadi, "Progress and Regress in EU-Iran Relations Since 1989," Security Dialogue, Vol. 29, No. I, March 1998, p. 125.
45 Iran News, August 20, 1998, pp. 1, 15.
46 Sabah, March 14, 1999.
47 Iran News, May 13, 1998.
48 John Tirman, "Improving Turkey's Bad Neighborhood," World Policy Journal, Vol. 15, No. 1, Spring 1998, p. 60; during a series of interviews with the policy analysts working in the U.S. State Department in May 1998, they endorsed the existence of the same perception among policy people in Washington, DC.
49 Robert K. Olson, "Partners in the Peace Process: The United States and Europe," Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 26, No. 4, 1997, p. 79.
50 Harvey Sicherman, 'The Strange Death of Dual Containment," Orbis, Vol. 41, No. 2, Spring 1997; Gary Sick, "Rethinking Dual Containment," Survival, Vol. 40, No. 1, Spring 1998; Patrick Clawson, "The Continuing Logic of Dual Containment," Survival, Vol. 40, No. 1, Spring 1998.
51 For further discussion on this issue, see Baban Calyp, "The Turkish State's Identity and Foreign Policy Decision-Making Process," Mediterranean Quarterly, Vol. 6, No. 2, Spring 1995, p. 150. Also see Omit Cizre Sakallyoolu, "The Anatomy of the Turkish Military's Political Autonomy," Comparative Politics, Vol. 29, No. 2, January 1997.
52 In this 1996 visit to Iran, Necmettin Erbakan tried hard to establish closer relations with Iran and for the sake of achieving this he told the Iranian officials that they do not trust the files prepared by the Turkish National Intelligence Agency related to Iranian assistance to the Kurdish separatist movement in Turkey. His attitude was not appreciated in military circles and became one of the reasons that led to the closure of his party. Interview with Sukru Karatepe, former mayor of Kayseri from the Welfare party and long-time follower and friend of Necmettin Erbakan, during a seminar in Nevsehir, November 5, 1999.
53 Kemal Karpat, "Turkish and Arab-Israeli Relations," in Turkey's Foreign Policy in Transition: 1950-74, ed. Kemal Karpat (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1975), p. 116.