Our story with Iran - KEMAL ÖZTÜRK

Our story with Iran

There are very few people who witnessed the people's revolution in 1979 and did not admire it. Not to make a comparison, but the Iranian revolution was to us what the Russian revolution is to the leftists. They had challenged all imperialist, colonialist, invading forces such as the "Great Satan" America, "Little Satan" Israel, Russia, China and the UK Who wouldn't be in admiration? Back then even the leftists, nationalists and liberals were fans of Khamenei.

Khamenei's "Shiites and Sunnis are brothers" statement was a change no less powerful than a people's revolution. This is why Turkey's Islamists embraced the anti-imperialist Iranian revolution which ended sectarian fanaticism and which screamed freedom.

The Iran in Turkey was not the Iran in Iran

Between the years 1970 and 1995, thousands of works on Iran literally poured into Turkey. We read and memorized almost all books written by contemporary leaders such as Bahishti, Ali Shariati, Mutahhari, Imam Khamenei. As if that wasn't enough, we read works by scholars of aqidah (fundamentals of faith), tafsir (commentary of the Quran) and philosophy starting from Prophet Muhammad's companion, Khalifah Ali, the taba taba'een (those who saw the companions of Prophet Muhammad) and the likes of Fahraddeen ar-Razi. An Iranian would not have even read as much as us on revolution and its origins.

Many of us went to Iran. More were surprised when they returned. The difference between the Iran we imagined and the real Iran had surprised us. Mehmet Metiner, who wrote the first warning saying, "The Iran in Turkey is not the Iran in Iran," was almost ostracized.

Iran started to change while Khamenei was still alive, with the discharge and imprisonment of future imam Muntaziri. The revolution had gotten into a fight among itself. Like every revolution, it was consuming its own children.

Factory settings, Persian and Shiite political attitude

The transformation in Iran gained pace after Khamenei died in 1989 and started to get back to its factory settings: The Persian and Shiite political attitude.

We figured out that Iran is in contact with all Shiites around the world or wants to make all Sunnis Shiite. It was doing this to use it for its political interests rather than for religious purposes.

Iran drifting away from the entire Muslim world and becoming isolated is because of its Syria policy. It first kept its silence in the face of Papa Assad's Hama and Homs massacres. Then helped in Assad Junior's murders. They both happened for sectarian and political interests.

Almost all Islamists have come to hate Iran for its attitude in Syria, its sectarian expansionism and racism. In our eyes, Iran was involved in games and complex relationships beyond our comprehension and had become selfish and unreliable, thinking of its own interests. Its cooperation with the US, which it had called the "Great Satan" for years, was a shock to us all as well as to the world.

Greatest disappointment for Islamists

I can say that the greatest disappointment and despair for Islamists is Iran. We were innocent, pure and romantic revolutionists and they, as those who know all kinds of Persian games, had tricked us with a historic deception. Iran had actually fulfilled the requirements of geopolitics and ruthless international ties. In this aspect, the UK and Israel are extremely similar. We later found out that its relations with these two countries were good.

Today, Iran's position is as surprising as it becoming allied with both the US and Russia. It is busy with the killing of Muslims with Russia in Syria and with the US in Yemen. Although some say this is the success of diplomacy, I think it should be seen as drifting away to hitting rock bottom.

If the US has chosen to become allies with Iran over Saudi Arabia and Turkey, something fishy must be going on. Very surprising changes are happening in the Middle East equation, hence in world politics, and Iran is right at its center. I personally have not been able to figure this out.

However, one thing I can say is that the lifting of the sanctions will give Iran a taste of trade and money. I think it will smooth out its sharp edges and internal political pressures will increase. Iran will be holding parliamentary elections in a month. The removal of sanctions benefitted Reformists. If they win the elections, things might change in Iran which is back to its factory settings.

It is also wrong to see Iran as a single block. But we should still remain cautious.


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