MIDEAST MIRROR 28.05.15, SECTION C (TURKEY & IRAN)
1-From today’s Turkish press
CONTROVERSY OVER RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS DIRECTORATE: Writing in the centrist Milliyet, Mehmet Tezkan accuses President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of anomalously introducing the concept of religious leadership into what is essentially a secular state: "The president has described the head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, Mehmet Gormez, as a 'religious leader' in order to legitimize his use of a million Turkish liras for buying a Mercedes, expenditure which opposition parties criticized. The president has thereby brought back the concept of religious leadership to Turkey. But let me say this: Democratic, secular, law-governed states have no religious leaders. We do not have such an institution. There is no post of chief imam in our state. There is no Ayatollah institution. But the president has also enlarged the ground covered by this leader. He said that Gormez is not the religious leader of Turkey alone. He upgraded him to the leader of the Muslim world!"
In secular, Kemalist Cumhuriyet, Mustafa Balbay sees the controversy over the Religious Affairs Directorate as an instance of a pattern in which the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) reshapes state institutions to fit its own image: "The Directorate of Religious Affairs has never been subject of much political controversy. Those who occupied this chair have always been people respected by the general public, regardless of the government in which they served. However, this institution too has been affected by the AKP government's habit of making all institutions look like the AKP; turning them into institutions that belong not to the state but to the AKP."
Ahmet Tasgetiren thinks that the controversy is not over the Directorate's official car, but over the Directorate's head's way of dealing with religious affairs, in centre-right, pro-government Star: "Discussions of religious affairs rarely concern only 'religious affairs.' In fact one dimension of the debate over the nature of the 'system' in Turkey has always concerned the status or mission of religious affairs. For the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP,) this institution 'is no different from the institution of the land registry cadastre.' So what is the real issue being debated in the controversy over the Religious Affairs Directorate's official car: Merely the official car, or Directorate's head Mehmet Gormez' way of dealing with religious affairs?"
GENERAL ELECTION: Writing in centre-left Radikal, Murat Yetkin sees no chance of any change in the Turkish government's anti-West rhetoric as long as the AKP and Erdogan remain in power: "The majority of Turkish voters like their politicians to throw down an external challenge, especially against the West. Although they see their interest as lying in relations with the U.S. and the EU, they feel released by this discourse against them. And in this atmosphere, President Erdogan moves on to become the sole determinant in foreign policy as well. The result: As long as Erdogan remains president and the AKP remains in power, we should not expect a Turkish foreign policy line that is different from today's."
Ali Yurttagul is impressed by the effect of votes cast by Turks living abroad on the outcome of the elections at home, in moderate, pro-Islamic, pro-Gulen Zaman: "The votes of Turkish citizens living abroad are an important factor for the parliamentary arithmetic. Since they are divided up among the cities, they also affect the distribution of the MPs. In many cities, the 'last' chair can pass from one party to another because of these votes. An unusual number of 'external' votes for a party can affect the composition of parliament. For the first time in these elections, we will be able to measure such an effect."
Although the majority of Kurdish votes will go to the pro-Kurdish leftist alliance (HDP) because of anger at the AKP's Kurdish policies, there is no evidence that the more religious Kurds are moving away from the AKP, says Abdulkadir Selvi in moderate, pro-Islamic, pro-government Yeni Safak: "No tangible switch is being observed from the AKP to the HDP among the 'religious Kurdish' votes. The HDP is a party that is the first choice of 63 per cent of the Kurds. If a group of religious Kurds are moving away from the AKP, this is not simply about the election process. The process of questioning began with Kobani [anger at the government about the lack of support for the Syrian Kurds' fight against Islamic State in Syria] and Uludere [where more than 30 Kurds were killed at the border by Turkish jets] and with the government's statement that 'there is no Kurdish problem'."
2-From today’s Iranian press
NUCLEAR TALKS: Hard-line Javan suggests an unbiased nuclear monitoring formula: "One of the most effective means of preventing the Western countries’ from abusing the Lausanne statement is to establish a board comprised of representatives from Iran and the P5+1 in order to supervise the performance of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Such a board can prevent the IAEA from providing biased reports and acting against Iran’s interests."
Conservative Resalat has no faith in Washington’s word: "The results of our nuclear scientists’ efforts over 23 years are reflected in the deal today. Experience teaches us that arrogant cowboys and uncultured Americans have never been true to their word, and are known for their perfidy and deceit. Everyone who trusted America has been humiliated. The fate of Yasser Arafat, Saddam, Qadhafi, Mubarak, Mursi and others are examples of this. It is clear that the heroic people of Iran will never allow the country's nuclear capabilities to be put up for auction under the guise of suspending the sanctions."
Moderate Iran praises the government’s performance: "Rowhani's government of moderation and hope has taken major and effective steps to resolve the nuclear dossier. The government’s practical, strategic and technical approach has been successful in reducing the hostilities and bringing a relative peace to the Iranian nuclear issue. The results obtained in the talks so far show that the government’s methods based on moderation and hope in resolving the nuclear problem have revived the country's interests in the negotiations."
ISIS/IRAN: Reformist Arman claims that Iran is ready to confront ISIS: "There is no threat to Iran's borders from ISIS at the moment. They can pose a threat to these borders from two locations: the Baluchistan border areas and Kurdistan. Iran's military preparedness should be accompanied by enhancing the awareness of ISIS and its motivations. Addressing such issues will reinforce the country's ability to resist. If the ISIS terrorist group moves towards the Iranian borders, it is certain to elicit a strong Iranian reaction. At present, Iran is at risk of war with ISIS. Iran's political stance against ISIS demonstrates that we are ready to eliminate them. On the other hand, it is no secret that, Iran is offering its support in suppressing ISIS based on the Iraqi people and their government’s request".
Reformist Mardom Salari warns Riyadh of the consequences of its policies: "ISIS can carry out certain actions as a result of its cooperation with some regional countries, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan as well as the Zionist regime. ISIS forces have always faced difficulty confronting the popular resistance in Syria and Iraq. Iran, Iraq and Lebanon’s unified stance is very important in order to resolve the crisis. Saudi Arabia has always tried to set ISIS against countries such as Syria, Lebanon and Iraq that refuse to respond to Saudi demands, but it should be noted that this issue will have negative consequences for the Saudis".
Hard-line Keyhan is concerned about U.S. policy in Iraq: "Iraq’s 'Popular Mobilization Units' (PMU) that are at the centre of the country’s military confrontation with the takfiris have been under consistent attack from American senior and low-level officials. But why should the dissolution of the PMU, which has scored numerous victories, be the most important precondition for the Americans to supply weapons to the Iraqi government? Dividing the Iraqi military along Shiite-Sunni lines will lead to nothing but deepening ethnic and religious differences and weakening the armed forces."
Centrist Jomhuri-ye Eslami lambastes Saudi actions in Yemen: "During the two months of an unequal war, the Yemeni revolutionaries and the country's army have retaliated severely against the aggressors. Saudi Arabia is pursuing a 'scorched earth' policy in Yemen, and apart from killing people, it is destroying the country's economic structures and infrastructure. Meanwhile, the international organizations have closed their eyes to the atrocities committed by Al Saud and no reaction has been observed from them."
ISRAEL/PALESTINE: Conservative Siyasat-e Ruz argues that Israel is taking advantage of regional developments: "Over recent weeks, the Zionist regime has taken its most severe stance against Palestine so far. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s insistence on the ownership of the whole Jerusalem and his plan to determine the West Bank’s settlement borders raise a question as to what is behind this policy and what goals are being pursued. Political observers believe that the Zionist regime's attitudes stem from regional developments. As the region focuses on the terrorist crises in Iraq and Syria, as well as Saudi crimes in Yemen, this regime is taking advantages of all this to maintain its occupation of Palestine."
TALIBAN/IRAN: Conservative Qods takes a positive view of a visiting Taliban delegation: "The Taliban delegation’s visit to Tehran, headed by Tayyeb Aqa the head of the Taliban bureau in Qatar, has not been officially confirmed, but there are various reasons for this event. It is important because it can be viewed as reflecting a new phase in regional developments and as a positive step towards dealing with the current realities in the region."
FUEL PRICE HIKE: Conservative Khorasan prefers expert criticism of government policies: "The government's recent subsidy move has been criticized due to the lack of information offered to the people in this regard. Price increases, without any explanations to the public are in direct contradiction with supreme leader Khamenei's call for understanding and unity between the government and nation. The government's subsidy move is an inevitable and defensible one in general, and the best means of correcting the mistake is fair and wise, rather than destructive, criticism. Therefore, to correct the government's minor mistakes, one should resort to expert critics and not analyses based on illusions"
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