Iran irks Turkey over missing former general

A senior Turkish diplomat said Asghari was reported as having disappeared with his family, but his wife appeared and applied to the Turkish Embassy in Tehran.

Iran irks Turkey over missing former general

Ankara has becomeincreasingly annoyed at the way Tehranhas been dealing with the case of Iranian former Deputy DefenseMinister Ali Reza Asghari.

Teheran alleges Asghari has been missing since after his arrival to Turkeyfrom Syria in early December, when a woman identifying herself as hiswife applied to the Turkish Embassy in Teheran, asking Ankara to discover hiswhereabouts.

A senior Turkish diplomat told Today's Zaman: "Asghari wasreported as having disappeared with his family, but when his wife appearedyesterday and applied to the Turkish Embassy, our suspicion over Iran's realmotive has increased. Iranhas in fact been using Asghari's disappearance as a pretext to exert pressureon Ankara on other issues and to put Ankara in a difficultposition."

Today's Zaman has learned that Iranonly reported Asghari's disappearance, which apparently occurred shortly afterhis Dec. 6 arrival from Syria,during scheduled consulate talks held in Ankarawith Turkish and Iranian diplomats in attendance in late January, more than amonth later.

 "Firstly, they wait more than a month after he wasallegedly missing to inform the Turkish side and secondly theychose to inform us of the incident during a routine consulate meeting. This isvery bizarre behavior from the Iranians," said the same Turkish diplomaticsource.

Asghari, who some quarters allege is a spy, was first reported to have gonemissing with his family and fled to Europe,defecting to the West. Then suddenly a woman calling herself Ziba Ahmadi,Asghari's wife, applied to the Turkish Embassy in Teheran on March 12, sayingthat her husband, who has five children, did not defect to Turkey and thatshe believed "some evidence" indicated he had been abducted.

She was accompanied by three of their children as well as Asghari's brother,Davud Asghari, during her visit. Speaking later on an Iranian radio station,Ahmadi claimed that Asghari "would never seek asylum."

Adding, "He had no problems in Iran that would suggest he wastaking refuge. …We asked the Turkish Embassy officials to follow his case."

Forty-six-year-old Asghari, also a retired general in the eliteRevolutionary Guards, arrived in Turkeyon a private visit from Damascus, Syria, on Dec.7 and disappeared on Dec. 9, his wife claimed.

Ahmadi spoke with Agence France-Presse following her application to theTurkish Embassy in Teheran and said that her husband was a loyal servant of theIranian Islamic Republic.

 He retired two years ago and had since been involved in olive farmingand the olive oil trade in Syria,AFP quoted her as saying.

Iran's top police chief,Gen. Esmaeil Ahmadi Moghaddam, said Iran was investigating with Turkishpolice and it was likely that he was kidnapped by Western intelligenceservices.

He did not elaborate and Iranian officials have not provided more details,The Associated Press reported.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry confirmed earlier that it was looking for Asghariafter being informed of his disappearance by the Iranian authorities.

'He might be hiding or killed, we don't know' Turkish police officials havebeen continuing their investigation of Asghari's whereabouts, while spyingallegations continue, some claiming the retired general had worked for the CIA,some Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency.

 Turkey'sForeign Ministry has notified the "relevant authorities" and starteda missing persons search. No information has been found so far, and Asghari"must either be hiding somewhere else, or he was killed," said aTurkish police official.

 "We do not know yet. But we have been pursuing the matter,"he added, declining to elaborate further over the matter.

But Ankara, experiencing tension with neighbor Iran over the latter'shandling of foreign policy issues, has become increasingly nervous Teheran isusing Asghari's disappearance as a pretext to exert pressure over other matterssuch as a planned summit on Iraq that Teheran has been objecting to -- due totake place in Ýstanbul in April -- and Iran's continued defiance of theinternational community over its uranium enrichment program, which Turkey hasbeen urging Iran to settle through dialogue.

Ankara and Teheran have also been involved inan ongoing dispute over the natural gas the Islamic republic exports to Turkey."During committee talks, the Iranian side has sought to put pressure on Ankara not to sell Iranian gas to Europe.Every meeting with Iranians has turned out to be a real headache for theTurkish side," complained one Turkish official.

Today's Zaman


Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16