Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Turkish Government Threat Assessment: Iran and Revolutionary Islamists Are Great

By Barry Rubin

One of the most important--perhaps the most important--indicator of Turkish government foreign policy is the National Security Council (NSC) threat assessment. The well-intended EU demand that Turkey, as a sign of its democracy, break the armed force's power over the NSC. This happened, though whether it is in the long-term interest of Turkey's democracy is still an open question.

When the army was in command, and Turkey had a generally pro-Western, secular government, the NSC listed as major threat to the country's future both Iran and revolutionary Islamist movements. But now that these alliances have been reversed, a new version has just been produced, with Iran and Islamists (the current regime loves Hamas and Hizballah) omitted.

The Kurdish Worker's Party (PKK) is still listed and friction with Greece over borders in the Aegean Sea is mentioned as a challenge.

Russia, Iraq and Greece are also dropped. The draft will be approved in the next few days by the full NSC.
Yet, according to the Turkish media, the report goes far beyond just dropping enemies. Iran, along with the other four countries, is officially listed as allies with whom Turkey has a "shared vision."

It's nice that Turkey is getting along with Russia, Iraq, and Greece. But the official listing of Iran as a Turkish ally should give pause to Western policymakers, at least if they actually paid attention to such things.

Perhaps in some future report, the way things are going, the United States and Israel will be listed as the new threats, unless the current government loses next year's election.

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