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MIDEAST MIRROR 18.11.21, SECTION C (TURKEY & IRAN)

 

From today’s Turkish press

 

TURKIC STATES/ NATO: Levent Yilmaz is optimistic about the prospects for improved trade relations among Turkic states in pro-government Yeni Safak: "The Organization of Turkic States countries' share in Turkey's total foreign trade is only 3.17%. This must be increased. Developments that will help lead to this are around the corner. One of these is the opening of the Zangezur Corridor. The corridor, which will open the political climate after Azerbaijan's Karabakh victory, will connect the Turkic world with Turkey in a more cost-effective and secure way. It is clear that this will certainly have a positive effect on economic relations."

Hakki Ocal believes Turkey does not need NATO more than NATO needs Turkey in pro-government Milliyet: "If Turkey bids farewell to NATO of its own will and deprives the latter, especially the U.S., of a political counterbalance politics to Russia, will the Western world be able to bear this? Hawkish senior EU and U.S. diplomats keep bragging and dismiss the need for this balance. No one considers the damage inflicted on Turkey by sanctions imposed on U.S. adversaries. But Turkey not only knows how to sustain itself; it also knows very well how to say goodbye to NATO after its exclusion from the F-35 program."

 

TURKEY/RUSSIA/LIBYA: Oguz Baran urges Turkish/Russian understanding in the Black Sea in Islamist pro-government Milat: "Russia, which lost Ukraine, made a critical move by occupying Crimea. However, it is clear that Turkey is trying to balance the situation by developing good relations with Ukraine and taking its side. It is not hard to assume that Turkey's stance carries the potential of being used as a card in Syria, the Caucasus and the Mediterranean. Regardless of this, it is very important that tension in the Black Sea is resolved with a Turkish/Russian accord. Otherwise, it is highly likely that NATO will infiltrate into the Black Sea to encircle Russia, destabilizing the region at a level impossible to manage."

Hediye Levent is worried about the situation in Libya in leftist opposition Evrensel: "Over 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries are estimated to still be in Libya. Foreign mercenaries who are commissioned by many prominent people, including Khalifa Haftar, as well as Libyan fighters, are of course not included in this number. Any sign of crisis could put these local and foreign mercenaries on stand-by for war. Because of such risks, Libya is on the agenda of countries that are active there or have stakes in the regular delivery of oil. The withdrawal of foreign troops was again discussed at the Paris summit last week, as it was during the Berlin summit. However, these discussions were limited to mutual accusations and demands for 'others to pull out first'."

 

MIGRATION POLICIES: Latif Salihoglu is critical of the Western countries' double-talk regarding refugees from Syria in Islamist opposition Yeni Asya: "Many people who go to the U.S. or European countries via Turkey or via another route seem to be leaving Syria without the will or intention of returning. However, the intention and view of these states receiving them is not aligned with the thinking of the refugees. They say they will receive refugees, but at the same time they try to find a way to send back those who are already there – sometimes by force. We should examine the case of refugees related to us very well, analyzing the issue correctly. In the end, we should work out our responsibilities and liabilities, especially in religious terms."

Ayse Ozek Karasu doubts whether the Hungarian PM will recognize the rulings of the highest EU judicial court regarding asylum seekers on privately-owned news channel's website Haberturk: "The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg recently ruled that legislation that deems assistance to asylum seekers supported by civilian organizations backed by Hungarian-US philanthropist George Soros a crime was in violation of EU law. People's right to seek legal assistance in their asylum application, which is under international protection, could not be obstructed by any national legislation. The ruling, which came after an EU Commission application, was welcomed by human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Helsinki Watch. However, it is questionable whether Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will recognize the ruling of the highest judicial organ of Europe".

 

Iran media watch

 

IAEA: Iran has told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to refrain from making "hasty and politically motivated comments" ahead of the upcoming nuclear talks after the agency detailed its conflicts with Tehran in two reports yesterday. The confidential reports, whose contents were seen and reported by various outlets, alleged that Iran had yet to grant access to IAEA inspectors to re-install surveillance cameras as the TESA Karaj complex, which manufactures components for centrifuges. The complex was the victim of apparent sabotage earlier this year, which destroyed one of the IAEA's four cameras at the site. The UN nuclear watchdog also accused Iran of carrying out "excessively physical searches" of its inspectors, according to Reuters. Iran's UN envoy, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, said the agency's "impartiality should never be jeopardized in the context of safeguards obligations," rolling news channel IRINN and Network One (IRTV1) report. The IAEA's quarterly reports come as its director general, Rafael Grossi, prepares to visit Iran on November 22nd. He is scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and nuclear energy chief, Mohammad Eslami, the following day. Grossi's trip comes ahead of the IAEA Board of Governors' meeting on November 24th, prompting speculation that Iran may be hoping to avoid being censured by the board. Indirect talks between Iran and the U.S. on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA) will kick off on November 29th in Vienna. Despite the IAEA's reports, no action is expected to be taken against Iran by the IAEA's board, according to diplomats quoted by Reuters and the Wall Street Journal. Takht-Ravanchi said Iran is ready to fully implement the JCPOA as long as U.S. sanctions are lifted in a verifiable manner, according to English-language Press TV.

 

IRAN/IRAQ: President Raisi said Tehran supports unity among all Iraqi factions in a phone call with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kazemi. He hailed Iraq's parliamentary election last month but said ambiguities with the results should be addressed "through a transparent legal and political process". Kazemi survived an assassination attempt after his residence was targeted by a drone earlier this month. Iran-backed groups are suspected of involvement. Several Iranian officials have questioned the nature of the assassination attempt.

 

BRAIN DRAIN: In a meeting yesterday with a group of students and academics, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said encouraging young people to emigrate was a "betrayal" of Iran. In reference to the West, Khamenei said a part of the "colonialists' soft war" against Iran was making the Iranian nation "neglect its talents". As is standard practice, his comments made front-page headlines in the papers this morning.

 

CORONAVIRUS: More than 43.3m people have received at least two shots of a coronavirus vaccine in Iran, according to official figures released by the Health Ministry yesterday. Just over 643,000 people have received three shots. Overall, Iran has administered more than 100m vaccine doses.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA: Iranians on Twitter continue to commemorate the second anniversary of the November 2019 protests during which hundreds were killed and thousands were injured or arrested. Two hashtags related to the protests have gone viral on Twitter; both include the word Aban, the Iranian calendar month during which the protests took place. One user pointed to the week-long nationwide internet shutdown that was imposed during the protests. Not having access to international news outlets, he recalled trying to piece together anecdotes from taxi drivers to understand what was happening. One user shared an image composed of the names of those killed in the protests written in red and white over a black background. A video of a painting showing a fist made up of the names of victims has also been widely shared on Twitter.