Tuesday, 12 November 2013


Islamist Super-Bloc Begins Forming in the Middle East

Wed, November 6, 2013
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal (Photo: © Reuters)
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal (Photo: © Reuters)

A monumental strategic shift is taking place in the Middle East as an Islamist super-bloc is forming. Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhoodare making up with Iran and Hezbollah. Egypt and the Gulf states are forming their own alliance. The U.S. outreach to Iran and the Brotherhood has left it missing from the equation.
The Syrian civil war has pitted the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey against Iran, Hezbollah, Iraq and the Syrian regime since 2011. Now, with a bloody stalemate resulting in consequences each side fears, the two sides are looking for ways to make amends.
Turkey has been trying to move its relationship with Iran past the ancient Ottoman-Persian rivalry for years. The Erdogan governmentgave secret U.S. intelligence to Iran and in early 2012, informed Iran about ten of its nationals meeting with Israeli intelligence inside Turkey.
One of the architects of the Turkish-Iranian relationship is Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, who the Israeli Defense Ministerdescribed as a “friend of Iran.” Some Israeli officials privately refer to him as the “station chief in Ankara” for Iranian intelligence.
These statements about Fidan’s role is not hype. The recent U.S. ambassador to Turkey and Iraq, James Jeffrey, put it this way:“Hakan Fidan is the face of the new Middle East.”
Until recently, the bitter civil war in Syria blunted Fidan’s aspirations. Turkey’s ideological ally, the Muslim Brotherhood, is trying to overthrow Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, Iran’s most valuable ally. But now both sides are exhausted. The war is costly, bloody and no one is gaining anything by its continuance.
Turkey sees Al-Qaeda affiliates taking control of the Syrian rebel cause and Kurdish militias gaining control near the border. The cost of overthrowing Assad would be exorbitant. Al-Qaeda and the Kurds would be even stronger and sectarian warfare will exasperate the refugee crisis.
Assad’s Iranian and Russians backers want him (or at least his regime) to remain in power for strategic reasons, but both have to realize that his forces are overstretched and cannot hope to reclaim the entirety of the country.
High-level Turkish and Iranian officials are meeting with the expressed purpose of ending the sectarian conflict. An unnamed senior Turkey official told Reuters, “Both Iran and Turkey are at a point where they think they can work together on Syria.”

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