Why Turkey Is Ratcheting Up Anti-Iran Rhetoric

Turkish President Erdoğan recently coined a new term, ‘Persianism’ or Persian nationalism, to express part of his concern over the change of Mideast situation in favour of Iran. But what is the reason behind the escalation of Turkey’s anti-Iran rhetoric?

Years after King Abdullah II of Jordan coined the term “The Shiite Crescent” in 2004, now we are witnessing a new “labelling” campaign against Iran, this time launched by Turkey.

The campaign, however, comes at a time when resistance fronts are experiencing landmark turning points.

According to a Farsi report by Tasnim, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke of the “Persianism” concept in a speech at the International Peace Institute in mid-February.

Referring to regional developments, Erdoğan expressed misgivings over Iran’s actions. He claimed that some people want both Syria and Iraq disintegrated.

He said there are those who are working toward the disintegration of Iraq where religious rifts and ethnic conflicts exist at the same time.

He said “Persian Nationalism” also exists there. In addition, he said, there exists secessionism which should be stopped.

A short time later, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, speaking at the Munich security conference, rehashed Erdoğan’s anti-Iran remarks with a different language. He said Iran is promoting Shiism in Syria and Iraq, and has created instability in the region with its actions

Since then, media affiliated with the Turkish government have used similar language and are promoting such language under different pretexts.

Yeniakit and Evrensel are among major state-run publications which promote “Pers milliyetçiliği” (Persian Nationalism). To people overseas, the concept means Iran is seeking to promote and rebuild the Persian Empire.

Objectives of King Abdullah II’s “Shiite Crescent” and Erdoğan’s “Persianism”

After Jordan’s King Abdulla II coined the term “The Shiite Crescent” in the region, we have been witnessing a new “labelling” campaign, this time on the “Iranophobia” front. However, the two anti-Iran stigmas have emerged at a time when the country has much more influence and power in the region than the past.

King Abdullah II coined the term in 2004 when the United States invaded Iraq and overthrew former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Iran’s main enemy. Ever since, the governments which have taken power in Baghdad have been very close to Tehran.

Former Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak also used the same term again in 2006 when the Lebanese Hezbollah movement defeated Israel during the 33-day war. And it goes without saying that Hezbollah is Iran’s arm in the region.

Why are they creating the impression that “Persianism” is being promoted?

It is clear that “Shiaphobia” can no longer help promote “Iranophobia” because Shiites make up part of the populations in the region, including in Afghanistan, Turkey, the Azerbaijan Republic, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Bahrain, and people in the Middle East are not afraid of the term “Shiaphobia”.

Therefore, another word needed to be used which would not only encompass Iran, but frighten all regional nations. So, a term was cleverly used targeting a certain geographical area (where Iran is located) and a given ethnic group in the same region.

By taking a look at regional developments, one can find out why the Turkish president has coined a new term to promote Iranophobia at both regional and international levels. Once it was thought that developments in Syria coupled with the dream of getting Syrian President Bashar Assad toppled would benefit Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. But now the very same developments are unfolding in favour of the Damascus government and regional resistance fronts, given the liberation of Aleppo, Syrian troops’ gains and the international community’s efforts to counter Takfiri terrorism and settle the Syria crisis.

This could be seen as yet another triumph for Iran and resistance forces following the 33-day war and the ouster of Saddam Hussein as well as the installation of an Iraqi government closely aligned with resistance forces in the country. It could also be regarded as a watershed in the history of resistance in the region.

Maybe that is why Erdoğan, who dreams of leading the Muslim world and the region, coined a term, as King Abdullah II did, when he realized his dream had shattered. This way, Erdoğan was able to express part of his concern over the situation in the region changing in favour of Iran.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi had responded to that: “Those who cherish the pious hope of returning to an empire, commit interventionist, illegal and illegitimate acts, support terrorist groups, trigger bloodshed and fuel tension and instability in the region, cannot dodge responsibility for these actions by playing a blame game.”

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