Why Iran Got Huffy about a Certain Locale for Next Nuclear Talks

Article excerpt

The exact words were, 'Iranian officials are not interested in Turkey as the host.' The declaration masks a mountain of Persian hurt over the Turks and their shifting diplomacy in the region.

Location, as they say, is everything - in real estate, and as it turns out, in high-stakes diplomacy as well.

This week's case in point: Iran's rejection of Istanbul as the venue for planned talks between Tehran and world powers on the Iranian nuclear program. Western powers had thought the Turkish city that spans two continents, Asia and Europe, would be ideal.

But Iran is having none of it, for reasons that say more about Tehran's peevishness over Turkey's rise as a regional power than about any Iranian dislike for the Bosphorus.

"Iranian officials are not interested in Turkey as the host," sniffed Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of Paliament's powerful committee for national security and foreign policy. In one short sentence, Mr. Boroujerdi dissed an erstwhile friend that Tehran is now alarmed to see emerging as a regional rival.

His comment masks a mountain of Persian hurt over the Turks and their shifting diplomacy in the region.

Perhaps Istanbul's candidacy for the high-profile meetings wasn't helped by the fact that US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is the one who announced - apparently prematurely - that the talks would take place there between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (the US, Russia, China, France and Britain) plus Germany.

But Iran's issues with Turkey run much deeper than a pique over Ankara's friendship with Washington, which is nothing new. What galls the Iranians is how Turkish leaders have seized upon the Arab Spring, and in particular the crisis in neighboring Syria, to establish Turkey as a regional power and influence - and in ways that don't suit Tehran. …