Iranian Diplomacy: Considering the verbal tension between (Turkey’s) Erdogan and (Iraq’s) Al-Maleki, where do you think the recent dispute between Turkey and Iraq has risen from?
Sirous Borna: As a whole and in the middle-term, the recent dispute between Turkey and the Iraqi government must be considered as temporary and tactical. At this juncture and among different issues, the most important issues that have led to certain misunderstandings between the two sides have been the way the Turkish government has reacted to and taken positions on the differences between the Iraqi vice-president, Tariq Al-Hashimi, and the Maleki government. The Maleki government has expressed its criticism of the government of Turkey. What they mean is that Tariq Al-Hashimi has been accused of wrongdoing and the claims against him must be assessed by Iraq’s judiciary system and that he has no position in Iraq’s internal governance. Therefore, the Iraqi national government expects Turkey or the Persian Gulf countries to not welcome Tariq Al-Hashimi as an Iraqi official.
Therefore, it seems in general that these temporary differences will weaken after a short time and the two countries will make efforts to resolve these differences, mainly due to the mutual issues these two countries have, i.e. issues such as common opposition groups, common borders and common needs which exist because Iraq’s two main rivers have their sources in Turkey’s southern mountains. Also, because Iraq can be considered a vast ground for the development of economic and commercial capacities, and due to Iraq’s considerable capacity in the domain of energy, petroleum and liquid gas. Hence, we should consider these differences to not be long-lasting.
ID: Mr. Maleki referred to Turkey as a hostile country in recent statements. Apart from this, it seems that Iraq has been revived in international equations after two decades of passivity. Can it be said that Iraq has returned to the arena of political competitions internationally?
SB: We must seek the origin of and reason for these challenges, misunderstandings and problems in three main elements. The first is the differences and tensions between social political forces inside Iraq; both those in the circle of power and those on the outside. The second is the role of regional players inside Iraq’s geographical territory or, in other words, the influence of neighboring countries on power equations inside Iraq, an issue which is both important and inevitable. The third element is that the role of a great and pioneer power-- that Turkish politicians have tried to dictate to regional countries-- in the past decade by emphasizing their commercial and economic capacities on one hand, and successful diplomatic activities in the field of foreign policy on the other, is not acceptable to some. In some areas, Turkey has acted from a position of power and has tried to have the last word. In the area of Turkey’s foreign policy, one must not neglect the considerable capacities of the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mr. Davutoglu. This is due to the fact that Turkish foreign policy and its relations are such that all of the region’s countries try to maintain and improve their relations with this country.
ID: How great of a role has the issue of Syria played in creating these differences?
SB: In summary, the considerable convergence of the Iraqi national government-- meaning the Maleki government-- with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s regional strategic necessities is an inevitable fact that has enraged some regional countries such as Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and especially Turkey. This is because Iran’s positions on Syria’s domestic issues are completely different from those of the previously mentioned countries. Iran is attempting to sustain the necessary stability in the structure of the Ba’ath regime’s political and civil demands of the people of Syria. Meanwhile, the aforementioned countries make efforts to prepare the grounds for the overthrow of this regime. Therefore, the convergence of Iraq’s position on this issue with Iran has caused these countries to increase regional pressure on Iraq. One of the excuses for such action in recent months has been the issue of Tariq Al-Hashimi, among others.