Turkey is hosting a new round of discussions between Iran and the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China – the P5-plus-1 in acronym-ese.
There is little hope for quick progress in solving Iran’s nuclear aspirations – which most observers think means Tehran’s drive to build a nuclear bomb, despite denials from the Iranian government.
But also significant is the increased role that Turkey is undertaking as an intermediary in solving some of the world’s problems.
All too often, it is the United States that has acted as a mediator in conflicts. Sometimes, though, the U.S. appears as a less-than-neutral broker of deals – read Middle East, for example. Many in the region believe the U.S. too often intervenes with its soldiers rather than its diplomats.
That is why it is indeed good news to see that Turkey is undertaking the middle-person role. Traditionally, Ankara has maintained good relations with most of its neighbors, including Israel (until the Israeli Defense Forces killed a number of Turks on a ship bringing aid to Gaza).
The Washington Post this morning reports that Ankara is focusing on “working through points of contention with neighboring countries to promote regional stability and prosperity.”
Some times we might not like the results of their mediation, as was the case this past May when Turkey joined with Brazil to broker a nuclear fuel swap deal that was rejected by the United States and its European partners.
But Turkey has also helped to facilitate Israeli-Syrian talks and to work for a peaceful resolution of the Lebanon crisis.
I know that 50 years ago yesterday, newly-elected President John F. Kennedy promised:
“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
I am not sure we need so many burdens. It is nice to see that other countries, such as Turkey, are increasingly willing to take on part of that burden. Being the international policeman has its blessings and its costs.
Note: Speaking of Turkey, next Wednesday the Monterrey Institute is hosting a panel on Turkey entitled “Partner, Mediator, Spoiler, or all Three? Examining Turkey’s Role in U.S. Nonproliferation Priorities”. You can RSVP here.