Based on my personal readings, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Middle East tour which started yesterday, is one of the most critical visits in recent times and should be followed quite carefully. Limiting the Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar visits to economic priorities alone would be a serious deficiency.
After the cease-fire in Syria, “a new situation” that includes Saudi Arabia and the Gulf is in question and it is defense. The countries of the region have adjusted all their energy to defense, become focused on an “Iran threat” and their economy and foreign policy have largely become security based.
Iran threatened both Gulf countries and Turkey
Here, the U.S.'s new administration and Turkey's position will be primarily determining. The position Turkey will take, the importance Ankara will gain in new regional policies alongside countries like the U.S., U.K. and France in the search for a new defense – this is the importance of the discussions to be held within the context of these visits.
The new U.S. president's anti-Iran policies in particular, Tehran's missile attacks conducted through the Houthis in Yemen, targeting Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, the Persian Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia being openly threatened by Iran, also Iran getting into war indirectly with Turkey in Syria and its aggressiveness targeting Ankara's regional policies and in fact its most sensitive security concerns has given rise to very serious outcomes.
It ended its contact with the Muslim world
This is the “new situation” and I believe that for the foreseeable future, the region will take shape based on this front. The position of terrorist organizations such as Daesh and the Kurdistan Workers' Party's (PKK) Syrian offshoot Democratic Union Party (PYD) is also going to change, be reformatted, or the role they have assumed will change dramatically within this context. Forming a front will also impact Syria's future, the map works and the future of the terror corridor set to siege Turkey.
Iran has never lost so much reputation in the Muslim geography since the 1979 revolution. The massacres it committed in Aleppo have especially opened serious wounds in the conscience of the Muslim world. The attacks it has been conducting in Syria with the Hezbollah are the same. It is as if the Tehran administration has knowingly started a disintegration with the Muslim world, put a distance between them and begun to threaten this world.
Not a sectarian clash, a Persian expansion map
This has revealed the truth that Iran is now going through a radical post “revolution” change, that it is altering its political tendencies, that it is following a strategic expansion map aimed at Persian imperialism. As this is out in the open, marketing its expansion policies as if it was a Shiite-Sunni sectarian clash is a serious danger. In reality, the situation has nothing to do with sects.
Iran is simply using its Shiite identity as a tool for becoming organized and is exploiting the Shiite demographics and conflict policies with the West for its imperialist ambitions. As if Tehran's threatening attitude toward the countries in the region and as a matter of fact, toward Turkey, was not enough, it is also inciting powers outside the region with its provocative outbursts.
The target of the missiles is Mecca, the region is under serious threat
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates being openly targeted by Iran, and U.S. President Donald Trump chasing partnerships against Iran is creating a new front. The U.S. president holding a discussion on “stopping Iran” with Iran-controlled Haider al-Abadi after Saudi Arabia and Qatar is striking. We cannot know how much Baghdad will join this process, but it is clear that this attempt is going to create new areas of conflict in Iraq.
The issue is not the U.S.'s intervening in the region again. Iran needs to be stopped one way or another; its deliriums that will throw the entire region into the fire need to be stopped. Because this country's continuously gaining strength since the 1991 Gulf War has led to an uncontrollable sense of entitlement. The exhilaration of excessive self-confidence and victory has bred an adventurous, day dreaming ambition, leading the Tehran administration to think of sieging, oppressing and as a matter of fact, attacking countries like the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia.
Mecca is the target and this is where Iran wants its missiles and tanks to reach. This will become clearer in no later than a couple of years. If Iran cannot be calmed down, it will very soon launch attacks on the Persian Gulf.
It should immediately withdraw from Syria and Yemen
Hence, if such a U.S. intervention in the region is not desired, then Iran must immediately withdraw from Yemen and Syria. Otherwise, a huge regional clash will be in store. The political decision makers in Iran should be made aware that Iran, which has been victorious in every outside intervention, may not achieve the same victory this time around.
The bilateral relations that have not been affected by any crisis and remaining stable, including the regime discussions in Turkey and Iran, have taken a heavy blow for the first time. The Syria issue has destroyed all the trust between Turkey and Iran.
Tehran, which has been striking Turkish forces in Syria through its proxy organizations, which has been doing this alongside Russia's forces, which has established partnership with the PKK/PYD, which sees the “North Syrian Corridor” as a project aimed at “stopping and sieging Turkey” and removing an obstacle standing in the way of its regional ambitions, has assumed hostile actions against Ankara. This has deeply shaken Turkish political and security circles' and in fact the public's view of Iran and has turned it into yet another kind of threat.
July 15 was a milestone, things have changed radically
Seeing it as a common threat has brought the defense/security policies of Turkey and Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries closer. It is clear that these words do not mean much for the excessive self-confidence of Iran, which is able to say, “We are standing up to the U.S., who are you?” Yet still, they need to contemplate on what it means to be isolated from the region
I do not know how much the president's visit is related to these issues. I also don't know what kind of discussions will be held or what kind of partnerships will be established. But this is the state of the map and the state of the security problems.
The rules of the game changed for Turkey after July 15, for the U.S. after Trump and for the region after the Iran-related missiles turned toward Riyadh and Jeddah.
There should be a joint Turkey-Gulf security shield
I believe Turkey will be the most honest and reliable partner of the Gulf region in terms of defense and security. These countries cannot solve their problems solely by purchasing millions of dollars' worth of weapons from the West. They are required to establish solid regional partnerships. Turkey's “defense export” will benefit them too.
The lessons Ankara learned from Syria are leading it to such a cooperation. Also, Turkey will be the only country capable of ruining the game of promoting war through the sectarian discourse.
Therefore, permanent security partnerships should be established between Ankara and the Gulf countries, and a security shield should be formed. The infrastructure of a long-term cooperation should be formed in areas ranging from arms supplies to joint military units, to matters of common perspectives regarding regional security issues.
It hit Turkey from Syria, Riyadh from Yemen
Even if it is not said out aloud, there is a deep security crisis between Turkey and Iran. Everyone who looks at the future from today, will have the capability to make guesses on how far things will go. The previous crises between the two countries were ideological. Turkey's reactions were also aimed at Iran's ideological interventions.
This is the first time Turkey's existence as a country has been threatened. Iran hit Turkey through Syria and created a serious threat for its national security. Just like it hit Saudi Arabia from Yemen, through the Houthis.
As I said, important visits and contacts that need to be followed carefully are in question. Because economic partnerships are turning into a “defense economy.”