If you ask an Iranian to state the first thing that springs to mind on hearing the name Farid al-Din Hadad Adel, the likely reply will be (if the person has heard of him) that he’s the son of former parliament speaker Gholam Ali Hadad Adel. And if you ask what else, then that he’s the grandson of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. There’s a good chance no one will describe him as one of Iran’s best-known journalists, because, in reality, he’s not.
So when Hadad Adel junior decided to write an op-ed for the Jahan News Web site (affiliated with Iran’s main intelligence agency, VAVAK) in February, in which he predicted that another war may be about to be launched against Iran, not many people took notice. Nor did they pay much attention to his view on which country is most likely to be the perpetrator:
“If we view the option of war as a possibility, we have to pay attention
to the conduit for the imposition of such a war. Where is the country
which has the suitable human resources? Which country can hope for the
entry of its European and American friends into the arena of war, if it
enters into war against us? Will NATO be considered as the supporter of
our future enemy or the Arab League? The answer is clear. Turkey is the
only option for the advancement of the West’s ambitions.”
Iran’s relations with Turkey were in fact improving greatly at the time
the piece was published. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had
visited Teheran on October 28, in what was a very successful visit
during which he met Iran’s supreme leader as well as President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad. These factors, plus Hadad Adel’s reputation as someone who
received his post as head of the political council of the popular
magazine (Hamshahri for Youth) because of his family
connections and not his skill set, led many to dismiss Hadad Adel’s
But actually, he may have had a point.
While some in the West are worried about a new Iran-Turkey alliance
being formed, they should also be aware that despite the seemingly close
relations between the two, there are people in Iran who view Turkey
with suspicion. Turkey may be a friend of today, but to the Islamic
Republic, it’s the rival of tomorrow.
THE EVIDENCE is there for all to see.
The Iranian government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on
support for Hamas. However, these days, the most popular foreign flag in
Gaza is that of Turkey, not Iran. People are naming their children
Erdogan (and no one seems to be calling their child Ahmadinejad).
To some Iranians, the Turkish flotilla shouldn’t be interpreted as an
attack on the Israeli blockade of Gaza, but first and foremost as an
assault on their influence in Gaza. Iran’s efforts to send its own
flotilla are testimony to that. Its main goal is not to help
Palestinians who are suffering the consequences of the blockade – that’s
maybe a second or third consideration.
Its number one goal is actually to save its standing and influence in
Gaza vis-a-vis the Turks, and to improve its image in the Islamic world
as the defender of the Islamic cause.
It’s the same with Syria. For years, Iran has been trying to capture the
Syrian market. Iranian officials have reportedly been greasing the
palms of corrupt Syrian oligarchs such as Rami Makhlouf and the Assad
family with bribes. They were also investing in the country when it was
considered a pariah and no one else would invest there. This was
especially true after the assassination of former Lebanese prime
minister Rafik Hariri. Now the Turks have arrived, and with their free
trade agreement are penetrating the Syrian economy and grabbing market
share from Iran. The fact that both countries share a land border
(unlike with Iran) makes Turkey an even more attractive destination.
Erdogan’s recent policies suggest that he’s on the path toward making
Turkey the leader of the Islamic world, especially in the Middle East –
something Iran has been trying to do for the past 32 years. This reality
is ultimately going to see the two countries compete and clash over
spheres of influence.
Between them, Turkey has a bigger and more advanced economy. Its
relations with the US and EU are far better than those of Iran. So are
its relations with Sunni countries as well as Shi’ite ones. As a
consequence, improving relations with Turkey offers much better
prospects and returns for many Middle Eastern countries and groups.
And although they won’t break off relations with Iran, the increasing
presence of Turkey is likely to come at a high cost for Teheran.
Iranian leaders will soon be looking for some kind of competitive
With their economy in tatters and their country more isolated than
before, becoming a nuclear-armed country is likely to be the most
attractive and convenient means for Iran’s supreme leader to gain an
edge over the Turks.
The writer is an Iranian-Israeli Middle East analyst and the coauthor of
The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of
Iran. This article was first published on www.the-diplomat.com