Assad met with Jalili, and immediately following the meeting, Assad’s forces conducted an attack in Aleppo. Iran’s support proved critical in this case, as evidenced by the withdrawal of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) after this strong and brutal attack. The situation is so grave that Iran does not feel the need to hide its ambitions.
What makes the Shia belief different than those of the other Islamic paths is the principle of taqiyya, which literally means that under strong pressure or danger of persecution a person is permitted to conceal his or her belief and act contrary to it. This is not something that Shia believers could rely on as an option; it is one of the main principles of the Shia belief. This has been the main characteristics of Iranian foreign policy. In pursuit of its national interests, Iran has relied on this principle in its relations with the countries where it has had conflicting interests. The limit of this principle is its credibility. Iran is losing its power of credibility because as it loses, it must set aside the taqiyya principle and embrace its national interests.
The relationship between Iran and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is one of the areas where this principle has been abandoned. A few years ago, Iran was fighting with the PKK. Now it hosts this terror organization, which uses the Şehidan camp as a central base near the Turkish border. It is known that the most recent attack on Şemdinli was launched from this camp. In short, Iran is extending support to PKK terror in Turkey. In addition to this support, the strong threat by the Iranian chief of staff should be recalled: Maj. Gen. Seyed Hassan Firuzabadi argued that terror would reach Turkish soil as well.
In the aftermath of the attack against military targets by the PKK in Foça, İzmir, the prime minister stressed that terror was becoming widespread. Particularly in urban areas, escalation of PKK terror attacks is expected. It appears that this could lead to a fear of bloodshed. The PKK will rely on all its assets and opportunities to stage a wholesale terror attack. What will these attacks mean for the PKK? Nothing. There is no strategic gain associated with such attacks for the PKK. Turkey is the strongest and most stable country in the region. Terror attacks will do nothing significant to it. Yet some attempt to force Turkey to review its security policies.
This “some” is not the PKK. The PKK will raise its voice through terror; but there is no gain associated with that. Syria is not powerful enough to organize the PKK and provoke it against Turkey. True, PKK terror in Turkey relieves the Assad administration in Syria. But in this state of turmoil, the PKK cannot find anybody in Syria to talk to. Only one actor remains: Iran.
The PKK camp in Şehidan, near the Turkish border, is located at a fitting address; Iran is exporting terror to Turkey through the PKK, and it is doing this publicly, as if it is declaring war. In an attempt to keep Syria in hand, Iran is sacrificing Turkey’s friendship, which is much more valuable. In recent years, Turkey has been extremely helpful to Iran in dealing with growing pressure from Western countries. It has even risked its interests in terms of its relations with the US for this purpose.
Turkey did not act hypocritically. It believed that resolution of the problems between the West and Iran would be good for all. Now Iran is destroying Turkey’s good will by supporting PKK attacks.
The longstanding policies and balances in the Middle East have collapsed. Iran is extending full support to Syria, and in the meantime it exhausts itself and its relationships. And its role as the main base for the terror attacks against Turkey is a sign of a whole new era. Turkey is not a country that will forget about this. It is not possible for Iran to be the winning side in this strategy.