Former U.S. allies Turkey and Brazil back the Iran regime

Former U.S. allies Turkey and Brazil back the Iran regime
# 31 May 2010 20:13 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. Passing yet another set of mildly irritating sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran for its nuclear proliferation comes at a high price for the Obama Administration, APA reports quoting “world Tribune”.

Not that Tehran doesn’t deserve a much wider economic embargo, but to pass this resolution at the expense of alienating formerly traditional American allies, may not be worth the long-term price.
The State Department seems to have surmounted the primary loggerheads by convincing Russia and People’s China not to veto the new sanctions. By watering down the draft resolution and making the fourth set of sanctions on Iran less than a debilitating economic embargo, both Moscow and Beijing appear to have signed on. But at what cost?
Yet beyond this obvious political calculus in the Security Council we see both NATO- ally Turkey and Latin American friend Brazil, vigorously opposing the Anglo/American/ French effort. Though neither country has a veto to stop the sanctions, they are nonetheless non-permanent members of the Council and wishing to show their political clout, if not really pique.
Just before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put forward a “tough new draft resolution” before the fifteen member Council, Iran in a political hat trick with Turkey and brokered by Brazil’s populist President Lula da Silva, agreed to a deal which would see its enriched uranium materials transferred to neighboring Turkey. The exchange is ironically quite similar to what the Obama team offered Iran last fall.
Now that Brazil’s Lula and Turkey’s Islamic-lite Premier Recep Erdogan have, in their estimation defused the nuclear crisis with Iran, neither side looks fondly on what they see with U.S. Secretary of State Clinton deliberately deflating their diplomatic efforts.
What emerges as a problem is that the high octane political hubris in both Brasilia and Ankara has seen both countries tilt decidedly away from the USA and towards Iran and the Third World in general. Though the mercurial Lula now in the last year of his presidency has long played the populist card internationally through pursuit of an assertive multi-directional foreign policy.
Turkey too, once a firm bulwark of NATO’s southern flank over the past decade and increasingly so has defined its identity less as a proudly secular Muslim Republic and bridge between Europe and the Middle East, and more as an Islamic-lite government which happens to be in NATO. During its current two-year tenure on the Council, the Turkish government has decidedly tilted from the West and towards Tehran.
Naturally there are commercial reasons both Brazil and Turkey have in their trade with oil-rich Iran. While hardly surprising, by the United States forcing both of these countries to choose between supporting weak set of sanctions on Iran or a slap in the face to their own prideful diplomacy. Brazil and Turkey will naturally choose the later, no mater how ill-advised and thus bring the odious regime in Iran some serious international support.
To gain support for a non-decisive set of economic sanctions, Washington is risking collateral damage in its relations with Brasilia and Ankara and splitting the Security Council.
Brazil is Latin America’s largest and most populous country with 200 million people and needless to say a large American market. Historically Brazil has been a close U.S. friend.
Turkey with 75 million people sits on the bridge between Europe and Asia and has long been an American ally and secular Muslim state. Turkish troops serve alongside American and British forces in Afghanistan for example, and U.S. air bases in the country sit astride the doorstep of the Middle East.
There’s little doubt that both Lula and Erdogan are playing a shortsighted and risky political game. Thus the backlash to American interests in two very vital regions of the world, Latin America and Eurasia, may not be worth the political bad blood being stirred.
Should these diluted sanctions pass the Security Council as expected in June, they certainly will not topple the Islamic regime but may in fact embolden it and serve to stir nationalist sentiment and turn attention away from domestic problems.
The Obama Administration has drawn many lines in the sand while attempting to face down the Atomic Ayatollahs. These deadlines have since passed only to be replaced by new rhetorical goalposts. Iran in the meantime has played for time and has so far kept the game going.