On Wednesday, Obama spent more than an hour on the telephone explaining to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan why the deal his country cut with Iran was incongruous with a U.S. push to isolate the Islamic republic over its nuclear program, according to U.S. and Turkish officials.
Obama acknowledged Turkey's mediation efforts and "stressed the international community's continuing and fundamental concerns about Iran's overall nuclear program as well as Iran's failure to live up to its international obligations", the White House said in a statement. Obama also told Erdogan that the sanctions push would continue, despite Turkey's opposition to new U.N. penalties on Iran. The U.S. official described the conversation as "frank".
The newspaper also published the analysis of Henri Barkey, visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, who believes Ankara is acting indpendently vis-a-vis Washington's regional policies:
For the Turks, it might be a Pyrrhic victory. They look great in the Third World that they thumbed their nose at the United States. But they are really screwing up the relationship with the U.S.
The Post headlined, "Spat over Iran May Further Strain Relations Between Allies U.S., Turkey".
Well, let's have a think about that. Ankara is trying to enhance its relative autonomy against Washington's dictations and the gains of its neighbours through its "zero problem" policy and "active diplomacy-first" approach.
However, Turkey is not going to move against Washington's interests as long as Ankara cannot find a balancing power. Wasn't it Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu who talked to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in prior to his victory on the table in Tehran?
Turkey is not defying Washington; rather, it is strengthening its position, amidst regional calculations, for the approaching UN Security Council vote on Iranian sanctions. Indeed, let me put forth a challenging prediction: for the time being, Washington will not be disappointed when Turkey abstains in the Council. And America will still need Turkey on the Iranian nuclear issue after the vote.