Is Turkey the new hope for human rights in Iran?

When Sakineh Ashtiani, a 43-year-old woman accused of murder and adultery, was sentenced to death by stoning in the Islamic Republic of Iran, her son, Sajad, appealed to Turkey and Brazil to use their diplomatic influence to help reverse the verdict. Iranian authorities rejected Brazilian President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva's offer to grant Ashtiani asylum, and that marked the moment when all eyes turned to Turkey.

Having brokered, with Brazil's help, a nuclear swap deal with Iran earlier this year, Turkey seems to be among the few trusted friends of Tehran in the international arena. Despite the West's anxiety about the growing Turkish-Iranian rapprochement, the country may in fact be the new hope in convincing Iran to better its notorious human rights record. The question is whether Turkey, under pressure from its own citizens and the international community, is ready -- or willing -- to assume such a role, which requires a careful balancing of diplomatic calculus and care for human life.

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