“It appears that Tehran is more important for Islamabad and Ankara…” The emotional reproach of Anwar Mohammad Gargash - the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates who finds Turkey's and Pakistan's stance regarding Yemen insufficient- is clearly evident in this statement…
As you may already know, Pakistan had decided not to send troops to Yemen, while Turkey had said –through the President's statements before his trip to Tehran- “Iran is virtually trying to dominate the region. This has started to disturb Turkey and the Gulf countries and it is not possible to tolerate this…” The expectations were not met, hence the resentment.
Sending troops to the Arab Coalition to be deployed in Yemen would have political implications for both countries and should be comprehensively discussed. However, another reason is the possibility of “Turning Yemen into the Vietnam of the Saudi regime”, as there is already an existing hostility towards Riyadh and this is likely to increase with the pains of the war… The staff experience within the Arab forces to administer this is also very limited. We do not have a place; we're passing through but it's a risk. ('Saudi Arabia's American-Backed War in Yemen Went Really Badly Today', 09/04, FP.)
Ankara's inclusivist brains
On April 11, President Erdoğan had a phone conversation with the Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif and decided to “Resolve the deteriorating situation in Yemen through peaceful means…”
At last, the five-point peace plan prepared by Turkey was announced: “Turkey clarified the Yemen Plan, which would encompass Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries and Iran. The plan emphasized persuading both sides for a ceasefire, halting air strikes, humanitarian aid, and convening both sides at the negotiating table, and having an international conference if necessary.” ('5 steps to Yemen solution by Turkey', 12/04, Yeni Safak.) President Erdoğan's message prior to his Tehran trip to “Resolve the Yemen crisis in collaboration” indicates this…
The corridors of Tehran: If Riyadh fails, it will spatter inside
The airstrikes carried out by the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia since March 26 have a daily average of 80 sorties, to a total of 1200, and it seems rather difficult for them to succeed without sufficient logistics and a U.S.-intelligence supported ground operation. The deep minds of Iran think that in case this operation turns into a military and political debacle, the crisis in Yemen would spread to the power balance of the Saudi kingdom! Especially if the existing Shia population in the Saudi lands grow stronger…
What did the Iranian Chief of the Army say: “If Saudi Arabia's rented army shows signs of defeat without even facing a bullet, good luck to them when a few shells explode in Riyadh.” (HaberTurk newspaper, 13/02)
What did the official statement of Pakistan's Office of the Prime Minister say? “The two leaders (Erdogan-Sharif) underscored the fact that a 'mutual and strong' reaction would be given in the case that Saudi Arabia's territorial integrity is violated…”
Iran's developing position and its brand new relations with the U.S. and Western countries are introducing a new balance to the region. It's a search to find a new order from the Mediterranean to the Gulf region. Much has been written about how the new situation is perceived by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan. However, as Ankara is taking note of the risks of these facts, it also writes down the advantages on a different page. Good quality diplomacy entails differentiating between the risks and benefits coming from the same center.
From a source of high tensions, Yemen has currently turned into a regional crisis. It is disturbing the existing balance and constricting the U.S.' relations with not only Iran, but also with Riyadh, Ankara and Islamabad. Even though the U.S.' relations with Pakistan have faded, it still does not want to give it up. Their relations with Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, are based on completely different criteria and it is impossible to leave them in terms of the coalition partnership. Even so, the U.S. could find itself more involved in Yemen. Therefore, the wisest solution would be to create a “negotiator” who also has the support of the United Nations Security Council. (Turkey already does this by itself anyway!)
Washington carries out its relations with both Iran and the Arabs. Turkey also carries out relations with both Iran and the Arabs. Both parties make their relations useful through a fine balance.
Let me summarize the situation in a single sentence, shall I? Turkey and the U.S. share the same perspective, practice and plans regarding the Iran-Saudi balance! They also share the same stance regarding the Yemen crisis. However, those who see this do not write about it and those who write about it do not conclude the sentence: this is called an alliance!
The gray area…
Games with many alliances and balances also have many traps… An article published on April 12 must be kept in mind: “It was propounded that Turkey and Saudi Arabia were preparing for a military alliance to bring down the Assad regime in Syria. The planned alliance framework allegedly asserted that Turkey would send ground troops, while Saudi Arabia would give support through airstrikes. In the case that the negotiations succeeded, both countries –regardless of U.S. support- would intervene in Syria. ('Saudi Arabia, Turkey Discussing Unlikely Alliance To Oust Syria's Assad', 12/04, Huffington Post.)