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Monday, August 14, 2006

Turkish Delight

The Saudi King broke his summer holiday and made his first ever state visit to Turkey. Which has one columnist, Semih Idiz, in the Turkish Daily News asking "why now and why after 40 years?" The answer came from Tariq Alhomayed, editor of the London-based Saudi daily Asharq Al-Awsat:
"History tells us the ambitions of the Safavi dynasty, which converted Iran to Shia Islam and sought to convert others, was hindered by the Ottoman Empire. It seems history will repeat itself."
Talk about living in the past. The stone-age cavemen of the Saudi press seem to have missed the First World War. In other words the Saudis are scared witless from Iran and think they can sweet talk Turkey into supporting them on the basis of some ancient animosity (and a little Bakshish). However, Semih points out that the Ottomans and the Wahabbis were not exacty friends either and
"As for the clash of civilizations ... this was apparent from the moment King Abdullah set foot in Ankara airport. His delegation numbered nearly 300 yet he had not one woman in it. He was met on the steps by Ms. Oya Tuzcogolu, the head of protocol but refrained from shaking her hand -- a typical Islamic fundementalist approach."
Of course such alliances between America's allies in the region fits rather nicely into their concept of the "New Middle East". But will Turkey bite into this offer from the King himself - given Saudi Arabia is waving its own wads of Petrodollars? Well, tomorrow Iran's Oil Minister comes to Turkey to talk about gas supplies and opening a new pipeline through Turkey to Europe. It seem this time money talks and Iran has the better offer.


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