Today, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly accused the US and Israel of meddling in Pakistan, Iran, and other Muslim majority nations. The Turkish President told reporters, “We cannot accept that some countries — foremost the US and Israel — to interfere in the internal affairs of Iran and Pakistan.”Officials within the Turkish government as well as Turkish news outlets have accused the US and Israel, and Saudi Arabia of inciting the anti-government protests. Erdogan’s statements fall in line with the narrative promoted by Tehran and the Iranian media.
Relations between Turkey and Iran have not always been smooth, but the two nations have recently developed closer ties as they work together to defeat ISIS in Syria. In 2016, Erdogan faced a similar threat to his rule via a military coup that was quickly squashed.
Erdogan did not elaborate on his remarks towards the US and Israel, but presumably he was referring to certain developments in the past week. As anti-government protests developed in Iran, the US and Israel, and allies have been accused of aiding and abetting the protesters. Meanwhile, the Trump administration announced that they would end security funding to Islamabad and suspend shipments of military equipment to Pakistan.
The US in Pakistan
Thursday, firebrand Senator Rand Paul, announced that he will propose a bill that ends aid to Pakistan altogether, saying, “We don’t like to see our money going to countries that burn our flag.” According to Senator Paul’s plan, the money that would normally be sent to Pakistan will instead be spent on infrastructure projects within the US.
President Trump, likewise, did not leave room for ambiguity in his statements. The President said that Pakistan has given the US “nothing but lies and deceit” while providing a “safe haven” for terrorists. The State Department has insisted that Pakistan has not done enough to fight the Taliban. Senator Rand Paul echoed these claims in his video address on Thursday.
Senator Paul also shined a light on Pakistan’s intelligence community, whom he insists “stonewall” US access to information needed to fight terrorism. While the Trump administration has frozen $200 million in aid to Pakistan, Senator Paul is calling for a complete termination of aid, a key platform in his failed bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
Following the comments made by President Trump, the Pakistani and Iranian defense ministers held talks today to discuss defense cooperation between the two nations.
According to Erdogan, the US and Israel, meddle in Middle Eastern affairs because they want to make “the plentiful underground riches in all these countries their own resources.” The Turkish President pointed to Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, and other Muslim majority nations to underscore his point,“It is turning the people against each other in these countries. It’s a shame that we have seen this done in many nations… We saw this in Iraq.”
Erdogan’s statements reflect the same narrative perpetuated by the Iranian government. According to Iranian Public Prosecutor Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, the anti-government protests were concocted four years ago by the CIA. Montazeri alleges that former CIA operative Michael Andrea devised the plan with the help of an unnamed Mossad-affiliated agent and Saudi funding.
The Russian government has also echoed the allegations made by the Iranian and Turkish government towards the US, Israel, and allies, insisting that intervention by these parties would only lead to further destabilization in Iran. On Friday, January 5th, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, said:
The United States continues its policy of open and covert interference into the internal affairs of other states. Under the guise of concern about human rights and democracy, they directly attack the sovereignty of other nations.
Real Concern for Human Rights?
The international community has rarely questioned whether the Iranian regime was involved in human rights violations. In Iran, women are subject to mandatory dress codes, while the government is a known sponsor of international terrorism. Human Rights Watch has fingered Iran for suppression of political rights and freedom of speech, execution of children, execution as punishment for non-violent and religious crimes, torture of LGBTI+ individuals, child marriage, and other severe abuses against women. Iran is also known for the persecution of religious minorities especially those who adhere to the Baha’i and Zoroastrian faiths, two religions both indigenous to Iran.
The accusations against the Saudi Arabia, US and Israel and although potentially accurate, have done nothing for the genuine struggle of the Iranian people, who complain of falling wages, rising prices, outrageously high unemployment rates, and the squandering of resources in international proxy wars. Accusations leveled against the Saudi Arabia, US and Israel have, however, done everything for the Iranian government. Instead of focusing on the complaints against the regime, international attention has been drawn towards criticizing the US and allies. Whether allegations against the US, Israel, and others are true or not, it has served as a perfect cloaking device for the government in Tehran.
In his statements today, Erdogan, like his American counterpart hardly minced words, pointing to the fact that the US seems to embroil itself most in Muslim countries. The Turkish President went on to say, “If this is the U.S. understanding of justice, then the world is doomed.”
Washington and Ankara
Although relations between Turkey, Iran, and Russia are improving, the same can hardly be said for the relationship between Ankara and Washington. Following the failed 2016 coup, the US has refused to extradite Fethullah Gulen back to Turkey, a cleric accused of planning the coup that nearly removed Erdogan from power and sent the leader fleeing for his life. Greece, the UK, and other nations have likewise refused extradition requests, claiming that those extradited to Turkey would not face a fair trial. Further angering Ankara, the US has supported the Syrian Kurds who are designated as terrorists by Turkey.
Today, the UN Security Council will meet to discuss the situation in Iran. The emergency meeting was called by the US, with UN ambassador Nikki Haley voicing support of the anti-government protesters and calling on the UN to “speak out” on behalf of the protesters. Iranian authorities hold that the anti-government protests in Iran have already dwindled, while pro-government protesters greatly outnumber them.