By Javad Heirannia

Interests, not democracy for human rights, shape U.S. policy: professor

April 30, 2017 - 11:49

TEHRAN - Prof. William O. Beeman, head of the anthropology department at the State University of Minnesota, says the United States is mostly concerned about its “strategic interests” and human rights and democracy never concern Washington.

“The United States measures its relationships with other nations solely in terms of American strategic interests. The United States makes a show of talking about human rights and democracy, but these concerns never really govern American policy,” Beeman tells the Tehran Times when asked about its policy toward the constitutional referendum in Turkey which put too much power in the hands of President Erdogan.

“Turkey is a member of NATO and that is the principal tie between the U.S. and Turkey. If Turkey fulfills its NATO responsibilities, including opposition to Russia and support of the campaign against ISIS/ISIL/IS/DAESH, that is what will govern the relations with the United States,” Beeman notes.

Beeman also says through the constitutional referendum Erdogan has split the nation.
“The referendum lost in Turkey's large urban areas by some margins. The urban areas are the places where there has been, and will be the most significant opposition to the Erdogan government. But this also shows the rural urban split that has been a major source of tension in Turkey for more than 100 years. Urban residents are largely secular, and rural residents are more religious… and the rural voters would support him (Erdogan) despite some of his controversial policies.” 

The referendum will give the president to press ahead with his policies at home.
“Without parliamentary opposition, he will be much freer to exert executive power without challenge from inside the government, but I anticipate that there will be more public protests of his actions. 

“There will be fewer restrictions on Erdogan's executive actions. Certainly there will be crackdowns on Erdogan's rivals for power.” 

The professor also predicts that the Erdogan government will clamp down on the Kurds with a freer hand. 

“Turkey's principal problem remains the Kurds in Turkey's southeast region. I expect more severe crackdowns on the Kurds. Erdogan has also been "soft" in opposition to ISIS/ISIL/IS/DAESH partly because he sees them as controlling the Kurds.”
The Minnesota professor says the referendum will not affect the quality of relationship between Tehran and Ankara.

“Actually, I think the Iran-Turkey relationship will not change, and may in fact improve.” 

He says Turkey and Iran are natural allies in terms of trade and tourism.

“Turkey is essential to Iran in terms of serving as a gateway to the wider world of finance and travel, and as a trade partner.” 

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