Monday, September 12, 2011

Turkey gains a radar, loses neighborly trust

Ankara's decision to host an anti-missile radar on its border has elicited strong objections from Tehran and Moscow, bringing Turkey closer to the West while exacting a heavy price on its valued relations with some of its eastern neighbors.

A major concession to the United States' European arm of its global missile shield system, Turkey hosting an early-warning radar as part of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) defense system is bound to build a wall of distrust with countries such as Iran and Russia, which are cooperating on finding a suitable exit from crisis by the embattled Syrian regime.

The radar would help protect against ballistic-missile threats and was part of a strategic initiative agreed on at a NATO summit in Lisbon last year, Turkey's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.


With respect to Iran, Ankara and Tehran continue to cooperate on a number of regional issues, such as the Kurds, energy security, bilateral and multilateral trade, as well as (increasingly) the troubles in Syria, in light of Iran's recent echoing Turkey's concerns about democracy and tolerance in Syria.

But, in the hierarchy of Iran's priorities is nuclear security, that is now potentially further threatened by Turkey's hosting a radar system that would give Israel the benefit of early warning on any incoming Iranian missiles in the event of a military strike on Iran.

As a result, the Turkish leadership may soon find out that they had underestimated the extent of Iranian sensitivity to their decision.

Asia Times

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