Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinjead, once the U.S.'s old devil in the Middle East but now its new flirt, was treated like he was insane when in July 201 he said, “The U.S. is going to attack the Middle East within three months.” Three-and-a-half months later, when Tunisian street vendor Tarek el-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi became the first domino in the Jasmine Revolution and hence the Arab Spring by setting himself on fire, obviously, nobody but those who were awaiting a big storm, noticing the financial indicators, arms agreements and technological developments, could foresee what this would lead to in the next couple of years.
While Turkey was acting as a mediator in the region with the complete good intention of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons with the Tehran Declaration signed between Turkey, Brazil and Iran in May 2010, the U.S. was as disturbed by Turkey's role in the Middle East as it was by Iran's nuclear program. In the meantime, let alone prevent the spreading of nuclear weapons, Iran was suggesting a similar nuclear program to Lebanon and Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah was harshly criticizing “Iranaphobia.” The lines were becoming clear and the only obstacle was Turkey with its balanced diplomacy, and of course whoever stated this at the time was treated as a “warmonger.” Hence, when Ahmadinejad made the call, “Turkey, you choose your side, too,” in 2011, despite thinking “continue with the balanced diplomacy,” the prominent enmity toward U.S. and Israel was captivating us, of course. Despite this, we supported the Arab Spring, even though we were suspicious of the Wikileaks breeze right before it. Because people were demanding freedom and rights. Not only us, even Ahmadinejad, who said “something is approaching” and was mistaken for expecting a military intervention rather than a “revolution-counter-revolution-asymmetrical war,” but realized a game was being planned, got caught up in the game and silently supported it.
For example, Shiite leader Nimr Baqir al Nimr, who was among the 47 people executed in Saudi Arabia yesterday, had played a role in turning the protests that spread to Saudi Arabia in 2011-2012 into a movement against Riyadh's Shiite discrimination. The people were unable to see this aspect, because neither our media and Middle East analysts nor the Western media, which has been our mirror for years in following foreign politics, touched on this side of the Arab revolts, but of course Iran knew this. Tehran, like many others, which thought “the Arab Spring is going to spread to the Gulf,” right until the revolution knocked on Syria's door, when the protests reached Damascus and Syrian President Bashar Assad set the tanks toward his own people, it took the “we won't become involved in internal affairs” stance. While some thought the Arab Spring would reach Iran as well, some were saying that Iran, which has been planning for an approaching wave, would not be affected. When Ahmadinejad was replaced in the 2013 elections by the “moderate” Hassan Rouhani, we would realize that a plan was being made – not in Iran's streets but in the corridors of politics – suitable to the storm to break out in the region. The P5+1 Iran nuclear talks that started right after under the leadership of U.S.-Russia, would also show us that this deal included a political plan in Tehran.
At that time in 2013, Turkey would come to realize with the shaky period that started with the Gezi events, that Iran, with which it sided against the West until that time, had quietly surrendered to a “superior mind” plan in exchange for the re-designing of the Middle East. Afterward it would face the psychological war the NATO-alliance Western countries had joined to oust the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government and then prime minister, current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. It wasn't only the West's Syria and Arab Spring policy that was changing but its model country was also being targeted. Certain Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia under the leadership of King Abdallah, who thought the Arab Spring was Iran's project to increase its presence in the region, joined the game, like Ahmadinejad, despite being aware that it was a game that was set up. Hence, being rid of the Muslim Brotherhood and the AK Party seemed more appealing at the time. Israel, which apologized to Turkey for the Mav Marmara flotilla raid within the same year, seized the opportunity and postponed the reconciliation with Turkey. Upon being attacked altogether by its friends and foes, allies and rivals, from within and without, Ankara became obliged to bring into prominence its humanitarian and conscientious diplomacy in place of its balancing policies. This, at the same time, was a reflex for survival. By telling the people of Turkey about Syria and the refugees, Egypt and the coup in rallies, it had to show that what was happening in Turkey had nothing to do with a demand for democracy or fighting corruption. And that it did.
Ankara still spoke with all countries that do not openly threaten Turkey. It did not close its doors to neither Israel, Iran, nor the Wet or the East. When it refused to bow down upon being asked to do so, it was accused of failure, but Turkey neither contributed to a giant design project nor did it allow its dignity to be trampled on. Today, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu is negotiating with Israel and working on a formula that will help Palestine and Gaza win, while Presidency of Religious Affairs (DİB) head Mehmet Görmez attends unity meetings in Tehran, where he is able to say, “those who massacre their people with chemical weapons and bombs and those who support them will be accountable in the Hereafter.” Even though it downed the Russian jet for violating our airspace, Ankara is still open for dialogue with Moscow and NATO alliances even if they stabbed Turkey in the back. Because, as a requirement of its position, Turkey knows that if it gets out of this balance it may be exposed to the risk of triggering a bigger chaos, or that it might have to kneel like in the old Turkey.
Hence, there is no use accusing Turkey of being a “traitor, because you met with Israel,” and snapping, “How could you go to Tehran, are you an Iran supporter?” Just as there is no need to play “we said so” and “we knew it all from before.” While leaders such as Ahmadinejad and Abdallah, who became involved in the game despite seeing it, criticizing Ankara over some mistakes that have been made and playing soothsayer is nothing beyond being shallow. Because as Velid Canbulat, one of the figures most familiar with the Middle East, said: “A game has been set, but even those who set it up can no longer control it or predict its end.”