Iran and Turkey, a Study in Contrasts

Recent developments in the Middle East present a stark contrast between an ascendant Iran and a free-falling Turkey.

On 29 JUL 15 French foreign minister visited Iran to personally convey a message from President Francois Hollande to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani to visit France in November. What’s more, ever since Iran effectively gained the keys to the Middle East in negotiations with the I-5 Plus One, delegations from the West have flocked to Teheran seeking to establish trade and business relations with that country.

Meanwhile, on 24 JUL 15, Turkish military forces launched combat operations against the PKK, starting what is likely to be a long and costly war with an indeterminable outcome. At the same time unemployment in Turkey is up, exports are down, the YTL is down to 2.785 against the USD, and the Russians can’t afford to build a promised oil pipeline to Turkey that was suppose to fuel the nation’s economic recovery.

As if that’s not bad enough, Turkey has a housing bubble that’s in about to burst due to the AK party’s funding of risky bank loans to large donors to build unneeded houses and apartments (sound familiar?). While these unneeded structures have gone up zero industrial capacity has been added. The Turks would have been better advised to invest their capital in building factories which would take advantage of Turkey’s cheap labor market and thus turn that country into the China of Europe. But they didn’t, and now they’re about to suffer a severe blow to their economy that will certainly be worsened by their war with the PKK.

Thus, in the span of a week Iran has become the dominant power in the Middle East, with proxies that have been given the green light by the United States to conduct operations against the Sunni states of the region. At the same time Turkey, a NATO ally, suffers the ill effects of internal political and economic strife plus the stigma of sponsoring ISIS operations–even as it engages in combat operations with the PKK.



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