The whole world is trying to find meaning in the actions of the Obama administration in the Middle East. On the one hand, improving relations with Iran, while on the other hand flirting with and even aggressively promoting Turkish foreign policy.
Why is that? Why is the United States moving away from the Middle East, literally and figuratively? Is this region no longer of interest to the U.S., or does the Obama administration believe that the United States will be able to control the growing Islamic ambitions of Iran and Turkey?
I certainly cannot answer the question of what is going on in the heads of the people who are framing U.S. foreign policy, but the fact is that both Iran and Turkey continue to develop their military and economic power. In both countries, again, human rights are violated. Dissent is a mortal sin. But this is not the main problem. While for years Turkey and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, like Iran and Ayatollah Khamenei, have influenced policy in the region, now the power of both has increased exponentially.
A manifestation of this is the “Marmaray” railway tunnel, which joins the European and Asian parts of Turkey by means of a tunnel under the Bosporus. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said that the Marmaray project will be one of the most important projects in the region.
In addition, it was reported that the Turkish Minister of Transport, Shipping and Communications, Binali Yildirim, said that the Marmaray railway project will contribute not only to the development of Turkey, but also to that of neighboring countries.
According to him, the Marmaray tunnel will be a new railway “Silk Road.”
The Minister also noted that this was not the first global project that has been implemented in Turkey.
According to Yildirim, in addition to the Marmaray tunnel, one of the global projects is a railway project, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway.
Here it is always necessary to remember that during the time of the Soviet Union, the southern Caucasus republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan were connected by rail with Turkey and Iran, even though Azerbaijan borders Iran, Georgia and Turkey. This was due to security considerations. The Russians were worried that if there was a rail link between them, Iran and Turkey would be bad influences on Azerbaijan and Georgia.
With the completion of the Marmaray project, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line will be provided with access to Europe.
For the construction of the Georgian section, Azerbaijan provided a loan in the amount of $775 million. Since the beginning of the financing of the project and before January 1, 2013, $431.3 million was allocated.
It should be mentioned that another rail line is also being built, and can join the so-called Silk Road: the Azerbaijani-Iranian Astara project that will connect Azerbaijan’s city of Astara to the Iranian cities Rasht and Qazvin.
The framework for this project provides for the construction of segments of the railway on the territory of Iran, and the reconstruction of the existing railway on the territory of Azerbaijan.
The project’s cost is estimated at $200 million. In 2009, the Iranians started construction of the railway between Rasht and Qazvin. As of the summer of 2013, the construction of the railway was 90 percent completed. Iran’s Deputy Minister of Roads and Urban Development of said that railway should begin operating before March 2014.
At the same time, the easing of economic sanctions against Iran may give Turkey an opportunity to cooperate with Iran. The fact is that Ankara is seeking to find a way to Tehran. This was revealed by the scandal of Turkish intelligence agents revealing to Iran the names of Iranians who were working for Mossad, as well as by the visit of the leader of Hamas to Ankara. Turkey continues to be active in the attempt to achieve reconciliation between the Palestinian parties. In this connection, the chairman of the Politburo of the Palestinian Islamic supremacist movement Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, visited Ankara in October 2013.
Mashaal met with Erdogan in the official residence of the government, at a meeting attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmet Davutoglu, and the Head of Turkish Intelligence, Hakan Fidan. And after that came the scandal of the revelation of the names of the Mossad agents.
The question arises: in this situation, should the U.S. relax sanctions on the Iranian regime? That would enable Iran to earn back in a few months all the money it has lost due to the economic sanctions — despite the fact that Iran has once again continued successful testing of ballistic missiles.
In the Middle East, intentionally or not, this has created an unbearable situation for democracy and freedom.
The situation that the only democracy in the region, the State of Israel, will face will be not only to protect itself against the growing threat of Iranian weapons of mass destruction, but also against the Turkish influence on Hamas, as well as against the Assad regime and Al-Qaeda in Syria.
Maybe this situation is designed to verify the charge that Israel cannot find a common language with its “neighbors”?