PHOTO: Iranian 1st Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkmenistan on Saturday
Iran has offered to mediate between Russia and Turkey, amid tensions caused by Moscow’s intervention in the Syrian conflict and the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkish jets near the Turkish-Syrian border.
Iranian 1st Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the sidelines of a conference in Turkmenistan on Saturday. He then said:
We are concerned about the tension created in relations between Turkey and Russia and do not regard this tension as beneficial to the region at all and are ready to help ease the tension….
Despite the difference of opinion about the Syrian issue, we should cooperate with each other in the fight against extremism and terrorism.
According to Iranian State media, Erdoğan called for dialogue to deal with misunderstandings and said Tehran-Ankara relations should not be “affected by foreign influences”, foiling attempts to cause religious discord.
However, the Iranian reports pointed to discord between Jahangiri and Erdoğan over Russian and Iranian propaganda which has claimed the involvement of the Turkish President’s son Bilal in trading for the Islamic State’s oil.
Responding to Erdoğan’s criticism, Jahangiri claimed, “The Iranian administration does not impose any restrictions on media….Even the administration is itself criticized in the media.”
He then turned on the Turkish President, saying that while Iranian officials have never commented against the Turkish government, “your authorities have expressed many negative and incorrect statements against the Islamic Republic of Iran, the government, and sanctities of the Iranian people”.
Ties Strained by Sanctions and Syria
Turkey has been an important economic partner of Iran, nearing $15 billion in trade in 2011. Officials said at that time that they wanted to double the figure by 2020.
However, that hope was checked by sanctions upon Tehran because of its nuclear program. There was further strain when the two countries took opposing positions over the Syrian uprising, with Turkey backing the opposition and Iran providing essential military and economic support for the Assad regime.
Iran’s military involvement deepened as Russia started bombing inside Syria on September 30. Tehran sent in more commanders, troops, and Iranian-led foreign militia, supporting and leading regime offensives against rebels and the Islamic State.
On November 24, Turkish jets shot down a Russian Su-24 strike aircraft when it briefly moved into Turkish airspace during a bombing mission in northwest Syria.
“Turkey is Hired Gun of US & Israel”
Even as Jahangiri was promoting Iran’s mediation, Iranian media were continuing assaults on Ankara.
Mehr News turned to an American conspiracy theorist, Mark Glenn, for the declaration that “Eragon [sic] has dreams of becoming the new Sultan of a reinvigorated Ottoman Empire” with US and Israeli support.
Clearly the shooting down of the Russian jet was done as a provocation in the hopes that Russia would retaliate in some dramatic fashion that could then be used for political and propaganda effect in turning the world against Russia at a time when she is achieving great success both in Syria and in terms of world opinion.
Musician, Producer, & Filmmaker Given 6-Year Prison Sentences
Three artists have been given six-year prison sentences by a Revolutionary Court for “insulting the sacred” and “propaganda against the regime”, two years after their initial arrests.
The three men — musician Mehdi Rajabian, founder of the alternative music website BargMusic; Yousef Emadi, manager of BargMusic; and Hossein Rajabian, an independent filmmaker and photographer — were arrested in October 2013. The recordings of Mehdi Rajabian, who was making a musical history of Iran, were confiscated. His brother Hossein’s first feature film was seized, even though he had approval for the project.
The trio were released on bail of about $67,000 each after spending two months in solitary confinement. More than 400 journalists, musicians, and cinema artists signed a letter calling for their release.