The United States, which failed to accomplish its stated goals in Iraq and for this reason is facing problems both domestically and internationally, has now come face to face with Iran. As a matter of fact, Iran's situation is utterly different from that of Iraq. The U.S. which acted alone on the Iraq issue, now enjoys considerable support from Europe in regard to Iran. Of course, uncompromising remarks by Iranian authorities against the West, particularly Israel, have a played a crucial role in this. While fierce statements from Tehran create sympathy in the Middle East, they also reinforce the American-European alliance.

Iran should not be confused with Iraq. This is because Iraq is a country that was created recently, whereas Iran is country that has traditions of State that go back thousands of years. Moreover, in the last couple of years as a result of the developments in the region, Iran has emerged stronger than ever.

Washington-based analyses of the Islamic world contain many tremendous mistakes. It was thought that Sunnis, who constitute the majority of the Muslim world, were nourishing terror, and that every "Sunni scholar" in the world was issuing various fatwas (religious edicts). Pointing to al-Qaeda and the Taliban, conclusions were drawn.

According to these analyses, reverence by Shiites for their clergy would make its easier to establishment contacts with Shiites and understanding them better through such clergy. [The U.S. has been working through Iraqi Shiite clerics, closely allied to Iran]. This decision, made in haste, was full of historical mistakes and loopholes in logic. This is why the answer to the question, "Who benefits most from the war in Iraq?" has always been Iran.

Until recently, the West that used to have gooseflesh whenever the word "Wahabi" was mentioned, now has the same concern about the spread and dominance of Shiism [Iran is Shiite and so are most Iraqis].

In the days ahead, Iranian-U.S. tension could escalate. But it does not at all seem likely to turn into a war. However, the show of force by both sides might test the limits of patience. Such policies might involuntarily reach the level of violence, and this might make a U-turn impossible.

An economic and political siege might put Iran in a difficult position; in such a situation, the attitude adopted by Iran's neighbors will be of paramount importance. The Bush Administration's attitude of, "you are either with me or with the enemy," might plunge the region into a period of uncertainty. Even if international unity holds, it isn't known to what extent the Iranian people would support a Western Alliance and to what extent neighboring governments would be influenced by Iranian public reaction.

I don't know whether or not you have noticed this, but when developments in the Islamic world threaten them with defeat, America seems compelled to mellow; but for some reason, they can't manage to take the initiative and make amends.

Winning considerable points for its attitude in Bosnia and Kosovo, the United States was regarded as a model for democracy freedom of conscience by Muslim intellects. But America's image entered a difficult phase due to security crisis that emerged after September 11. It is well known that extremist groups are very small and marginal. But the majority of Muslims have been made to pay a terrible price for the expression "Islamic terror," while it is that very Muslim majority, who interpret the Quran and Sunnah [the teachings] correctly, that are most capable of preventing terrorist actions committed in the name of Islam. Moreover, the threat of war is viewed in the Middle East as part of an occupation plot, which raises more difficulties.

In spite of all this, the probability of war is low. This is because war will bring no benefits to the U.S., nor would it be possible to end this war quickly.

Iran knows this, hence, it prepares for war; moreover, it continues to solicit sympathy by reflecting an image of wanting war. The Iranians know very well that such a war benefit neither them nor the wider Islamic world.

Whatever the case, a stable and strong Turkey is required, there is no doubt about that. I hope Turkish politicians and intellects see this reality.