By Stephen Kinzer (Guardian); Alain Gresh (Le Monde). Translated by Siv O'Neall
The Guardian (UK) Le Monde Diplomatique.
Brazil and Turkey have brokered a deal with Iran over its nuclear programme that shows the two countries are a new global force.
The dramatic news from Tehran that a last-minute breakthrough may have been reached to avert a global crisis over Iran's nuclear programme is a highly positive development for everybody – except those in Washington and Tel Aviv who have been looking for an excuse to isolate or attack Iran. It also marks the debut of a highly promising new force on the world stage: the Turkey-Brazil axis.
Last week, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil took a classic good-cop bad-cop approach to Iranian leaders. Lula announced that he would fly to Tehran, which gave the Iranians clear hope for a deal. But the deal required both leaders, and Erdogan was cagey. On Thursday, Turkey's highly skilled foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said his boss would not travel to Iran unless the Iranians were ready to make a deal. "The matter is not just to hold a three-way meeting," he said. "We want to get results if such a meeting is to be held."
On Friday, Erdogan escalated his brinksmanship by saying that his tentatively planned trip to Tehran was "no longer possible for me, as Iran has not taken that step on the issue".
A few hours later, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton telephoned Davutoglu and sought to discourage the Turkey-Brazil initiative. A state department spokesman said she had warned him that any summit in Tehran would be just a ploy, "an attempt to stop security council action without actually taking steps to address international concerns about its nuclear programme".
After the phone call, Clinton predicted publicly that the Turkish-Brazilian effort to broker a deal with Iran would fail. "Every step of the way has demonstrated clearly to the world that Iran is not participating in the international arena in the way that we had asked them to do," she told reporters in Washington, "and that they continued to pursue their nuclear programme."
Clinton, however, may not have been on the same political page as the White House. As she was speaking in Washington, Turkish officials in Ankara were telling journalists at an off-the-record briefing that they had received quiet encouragement from President Barack Obama to press ahead with their mediating effort. This may have been a planned divergence of official American opinion designed to pressure Iran; just as possibly, it reflects Clinton's continuing isolation from the inner-circle of American foreign policymaking on crucial world issues.
Some in Washington may view this deal as a way to give Iran a face-saving escape from its looming confrontation with the US and European Union. It may have been, but Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, saw it from the opposite perspective. He said last week that Iran was seeking a deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey "to give western countries an opportunity to save face and find a way out of the current situation".
Either way, skilful negotiating by two world leaders undermined the view, widely accepted in Washington, that Iran could only be made to compromise if it was threatened with sanctions and repeated warnings that the US would consider "all options" to block further progress in its nuclear programme.
Turkey and Brazil, though half a world apart geographically, have much in common. Both are large countries that spent long years under military dominance, but have broken with that history and made decisive steps towards full democracy. Both are led by dynamic and ambitious leaders who have presided over remarkable economic booms. Both have already emerged as regional powers, but have grander ambitions to become world powers on the level of Russia, India and perhaps even China. Neither could fulfil those ambitions alone. Together, however, they form a partnership that holds tantalising possibilities.
No two countries have opened more new embassies around the world in the last couple of years than Turkey and Brazil. Senior Turkish diplomats return to Ankara once a year for a grand strategic conference, and at this year's meeting, held in January, Brazil's foreign minister, Celso Amorim, was among the main speakers.
Turkey and Brazil were once near-automatic supporters of Washington, but they have struck out on their own path. Distressed by what they saw as blundering American unilateralism that destabilised entire regions of the world, they have sought to defuse international confrontations and promote peaceful compromises instead. By felicitous coincidence, both are now nonpermanent members of the security council. This gave them special leverage over Iran. They have used it deftly.
During the cold war, the non-aligned movement tried to become a "third force" in world politics, but failed because it was too large and unwieldy. Turkey and Brazil are now emerging as the global force for compromise and dialogue that the non-aligned movement never was.
The following excerpt is taken from an article in Le Monde Diplomatique(May 21, 2010) and translated below from French into English for Axis of Logic by Siv O'Neall, Columnist.
Iran, vers « une communauté internationale » post-occidentale ?
par Alain Gresh
The following comments are referring to the ongoing UN negotiations concerning a fourth set of sanctions against Iran. Hillary Clinton claimed on May 18 that there was an agreement with Russia and China on a project of sanctions against Iran. Comments below.
« Les grandes puissances se discréditent »auprès de l'opinion publique en ignorant l'initiative irano-turco-brésilienne, a déclaré Ali Akbar Salehi, chef de l'organisation iranienne de l'énergie atomique (AFP, 19 mai). C'est « un camouflet pour les puissances émergentes», a insisté pour sa part l'ancien ambassadeur de France à Téhéran François Nicoullaud, sur RFI, le 19 mai. Pour l'éditorialiste du New York Times Roger Cohen (« America Moves the Goalposts », 20 mai), « le Brésil et la Turquie représentent le monde émergent post-occidental. Et il va continuer à émerger. Hillary Clinton devrait être moins irresponsable en torpillant les efforts de Brasilia et d'Ankara et en rendant hypocritement hommage à leurs efforts sincères. » La capacité des Etats-Unis à imposer leur solution, poursuit-il, est sérieusement érodée.
L’Iran, une puissance militaire majeure ?
L’Iran, loin d’être une puissance militaire majeure, comme le prétendent la propagande occidentale et la propagande iranienne, paradoxalement à l’unisson, n’est qu’un pays disposant de forces limitées, rappelle Stephen M. Walt (« More hype about Iran ?», Foreign, Policy, 20 avril 2010)...
Un éditorialiste du quotidien turc Radikal (18 mai) tire les premières leçons de ce qui s’est passé et affirme que l’inconfort des Occidentaux à l’égard de l’accord du 17 mai « exprime leur méfiance devant le succès de la Turquie et du Brésil dans la principale crise à l’ordre du jour dans le monde, succès qui témoigne qu’un changement tectonique a eu lieu dans la structure des relations internationales ».
Iran, towards a post-Western "international community?
By Alain Gresh
The great powers are discredited" seen from the public’s point of view, by ignoring the Iranian-Turkish-Brazilian initiative," said Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Iranian Atomic Energy (AFP, May 19). It is "an affront to the emerging powers," France's former ambassador to Tehran, Francois Nicoullaud, also insisted on RFI, May 19. For the New York Times columnist Roger Cohen ("America Moves the Goalposts", 20 May), "Brazil and Turkey represent the emerging post-Western world. And this world will go on emerging. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should therefore be less trigger-happy in killing with faint praise the “sincere efforts” of Brasilia and Ankara and hypocritically making sincere tribute to their efforts. The West’s ability to impose solutions to global issues like Iran’s nuclear program has unraveled.
Iran, a major military power ?
Iran, far from being a major military power, as claimed by Western propaganda and, paradoxically, in unison, also by Iranian propaganda, is a country with a limited military, said Stephen M. Walt ("More hype about Iran?", Foreign, Policy, April 20, 2010) ...
A columnist for the Turkish daily Radikal (May 18) draws the first conclusions of what happened and confirms that the discomfort of the West towards the agreement of May 17 "expressed their distrust of the success of Turkey and Brazil in dealing with the main crisis on the agenda in the world, a success that demonstrates that a tectonic shift has occurred in the structure of international relations."
Exact excerpt from Roger Cohen’s column on May 20, 2010, “America Moves the Goalposts” ...
“… but first let’s take a cold look at the Brazilian and Turkish leaders’ achievement in Tehran, how it relates to an earlier American near-deal, and what all this says about a world undergoing significant power shifts.
I’ll take the last point first. Brazil and Turkey represent the emergent post-Western world. It will continue to emerge; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should therefore be less trigger-happy in killing with faint praise the “sincere efforts” of Brasilia and Ankara.
The West’s ability to impose solutions to global issues like Iran’s nuclear program has unraveled. America, engaged in two inconclusive wars in Muslim countries, cannot afford a third. The first decade of the 21st century has delineated the limits of U.S. power…”
Source of excerpts in French: Le Monde Diplomatique
Translated for Axis of Logic by Siv O'Neall, Columnist
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