– Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal
Even as it is losing intentional prestige and credibility as a real mediator for peace anywhere in the world, USA is committed to shielding terrorist Israel by misusing its veto from any international punishment at the UN.
As the Turkish diplomatic profile taking a final shape in recent times, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Iran on October 4 to hold crucial talks with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on the outcome of the Iraqi Kurdish referendum and other regional security issues.
Part -1: Common challenges
As the USA is still considering further sanctions on Iran, Turkish and Iranian analysts agree that while Erdogan’s visit is vital for both countries but Ankara has much more at stake in its outcome than Tehran. Accordingly, Turkey could leverage its warming relations with Iran to put more pressure on the KRG to backtrack from its plan to declare an independent state.
Erdogan’s visit to Tehran has been expected since August. But his original agenda focusing on military cooperation to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), and the establishment of a de-escalation zones in Syria, has since been overshadowed by a new regional crisis following the Kurdish referendum.
Erdogan’s visit to Tehran comes as Ankara continues to seek regional consensus on how to block efforts by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to split from Iraq – a move Turkey fears would have a domino effect on its own 15 million ethnic Kurdish populations.
Iran also has got similar apprehensions.
Political relations between Iran and Turkey have continued steadily since the 1979 Islamic Revolution despite the existence of structural differences between them. It is worth mentioning though that their bilateral interests in maintaining regional stability and their commitment to containing and controlling Kurdish separatist movements in the Middle East, i.e., their security cooperation, are two other important factors contributing to the consolidation of their political relations. However, the contribution that economy has made to the two countries’ relations has been very huge.
From a military and security perspective, Erdogan’s visit to Iran is significant, as Turkey considers more sanctions on the KRG and its regional capital Erbil, including the shutting of its borders.
In the last week following the Kurdish referendum, Turkey has held joint military exercises with Iraq. Separately, Iraq also announced joint military exercises with Iran. But so far, there has been no agreement reached on military exercises between Turkey and Iran.
The Turkish president stressed the need for joint and simultaneous actions by Iran, Turkey, and Iraq on the issue of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei told visiting Turkish President Erdogan that the USA is seeking to create new ‘Israel’ in the Middle East through the Kurdish secession bid. The Leader warned that holding a referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan is a betrayal of the region and a threat to its future that will entail long-term repercussions for the neighboring states.
Recently, President Erdogan had told parliament members in Ankara that he expects to draw up an agreement with Iran, on how to respond to the KRG referendum. Erdogan dispatched Gen. Hulusi Akar, the military Chief of General Staff, to Tehran, the first ever visit for a top Turkish military official since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. At their meeting, Akar and Iran’s military chief, Mohammed Hussein Bagheri, condemned the Kurdish referendum as unconstitutional. (In August, Bagheri became the first ever top military official of Iran to visit Ankara since 1979) Akar also held separate talks with President Rouhani, who at the meeting warned that the deterioration of geographical boundaries, in the event of a KRG split from Iraq, would harm regional security and stability. Akar said that Turkey and Iran, “will play an important role in the region’s stability and peace with improving cooperation,” following the Kurdish referendum.
The terror war in Kabul launched by the USA following the Sept-11 hoax under NATO terror banner is still on, and it has spread its poisonous tentacles into other Muslim nations; The foes of Islam are interested in killing more and more Muslims and loot the resources in Arab world, secure energy routes and other trade routes for the superpower USA.
Unfortunately, the Islamic world is being controlled by economically, technologically and militarily advanced West where the rulers of Islamic nations keep their wealth for safety.
Like in bilateral relations between any two Muslim nations, Iran and Turkey have conducted uneasy ties as each looked up to Uncle Sam for help and support. Experience taught a few lessons to both Istanbul and Tehran to see through the hidden agenda of the anti-Islamic world, led by USA, Israel, and Germany and accordingly reset their policy towards the enemies of Islam.
After a bad experience with its former military ally Israel, Turkey’s raising mode of strategic resources is tremendously good news for the people of the Middle East. The two remaining stable, independent, sovereign nations have united to stop the nefarious plans of Israel and their US supporters to further destabilize and Balkanize the region.
The strategy of disintegrating the regional countries is the US-Israeli plan to sustain Sunni-Shiite divide intact. Like Israel, there are many in Syria and Iraq, who simply do not fully trust Iran, and they do not trust Turkey at all; they fuel Saudi Arabia to fight Iran and think Erdogan is a ‘slippery customer’ who changed sides as it suited him and he rules Turkey with an iron fist.
The enemies of Islam pretend to be great democrats but worried about deficit of freedoms in Muslim nations and are annoyed that Erdogan did not allow the enemies of Islam in and outside Turkey to destabilize the Islamist nation in Europe and kill the leaders there, including President Erdogan and view the unsuccessful coup a lost opportunity to make Turkey anti-Islamic. They also made a loud noise as the Erdogan government began acting swiftly against the coup plotters.
The ISIS project, like Taliban and Al Qaeda, belongs to Washington and the idea behind its introduction is to divide the West Asia. One of the prime objectives of Sept-11 hoax had much to do with that.
Iran’s response to coup in Turkey
Turkey is a neighboring state where the coup plot happened. The whole establishment was too concerned. President Erdogan and his government are strong partners of Iran. It’s not a secret anymore that Zarif, Shamkhani, and Soleimani were executing higher orders. “Our nations enjoy strong brotherly ties, so it’s the least we can do to show solidarity and try to offer any help they might need in such critical times.”
In July Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was on the phone with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, whose government was under the threat of being overthrown by a military coup. Meanwhile, Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), was on another line with security officials in Ankara. All the while, Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, Iran’s regional military arm, was busy pursuing and reviewing various scenarios that might emerge.
Within hours after the coup attempt began late July 15, the SNSC convened to discuss developments in Turkey. Following the meeting, which was chaired by President Hassan Rouhani, Shamkhani publicly condemned the coup attempt, telling local media outlets, “We support Turkey’s legal government and oppose any coup — either initiated domestically or supported by foreign sides.” Shamkhani said, “What determined the fate of developments in Turkey were the will and presence of the Turkish nation and the vigilance of political parties, whose contribution thwarted this coup. Shamkhani concluded, “Our stance is not exclusive to Turkey either. We have pursued the same stance in Syria too. Our position toward all regional countries is that we always prefer people’s votes to decide governments rather than tribal, sectarian and hereditary governments, and this means democracy.”
A coup in Turkey with regional implications isn’t something Iran can tolerate. “It’s true that there are differences over Syria, and sometimes in Iraq. The fact is that there is no direct problem between Iran and Turkey; on the contrary, bilateral relations are always advancing for the better. Besides, Iran is opposed to any change by force, and especially when the government in question is democratically elected… The most important thing is that this experience of coup attempt might be an opportunity for Erdogan to understand the situation in neighboring Syria.”
Indeed, multiple Iranian officials, including Ali Akbar Velayati — foreign policy adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — brought up Syria in their condemnation of the coup attempt in Turkey. While condemning the coup, Velayati — a former foreign minister — said he hopes “the Turkish government will respect the views and votes of the Syrian people and allow them to decide their government.” It was a clear message from Iran to Turkey regarding Syria and the future of the struggle in the region. For five years now, Iranian officials have on repeated occasions stated that they have been trying to engage the Turks on a path to address the situation in Syria, and while unsuccessful, have never given up on this approach.
The coup in Turkey brings Iran closer
Turkey is a major regional player. With an Islamic-oriented government in power in Ankara, bilateral relations have improved in the past decade, paving the way for common ground despite differences over regional developments. The latter has been possible thanks to Iranian-Turkish proximity regarding grander objectives and also similarities in their ways of thinking.
The stability of the region would have been seriously threatened if the coup attempt had succeeded. Besides, there is the fear that such a move might trigger internal strife, weakening the state. Given the past five bloody years in the region, any such development in Turkey would shake the whole region” in addition to “Europe, Iran and the Caucasus.” Besides, the already shaken Arab countries following the Arab Spring, sponsored by Israel-USA-Germany trio, would face more troubles. What might the various ethnic groups within Turkey do when the enemies of Islam and Islamist Turkey were eager to create problems within?
The Iranian government reacted to the Coup in Turkey before any other government in the whole world and backed the legitimate Turkish government strongly.
Some conservative figures in Tehran have shown a different reaction toward development in Turkey, influenced mainly by the crisis in Syria. There was not a gap between the public and the government concerning what was going on in Turkey. Many who oppose Islam and without any understanding of the region is influenced by the war in Syria think the fall of Erdogan would have been a positive development — not only in Iran but also in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. But such an argument has no validity.
It is important to bear in mind the other important reasons why Iran sees the security and stability of Turkey as pivotal to its national security. Indeed, at the height of the nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, Turkey played a vital role in easing the pressure on its eastern neighbor. Erdogan certainly paid the price for ignoring the direction from USA on US sanctions imposed on Iran through his “gold-for-oil scheme” — even while economic ties between the two countries greatly expanded in the sanctions era.
Reports suggest, Iran also played a role in directly thwarting the coup, for instance, by sharing intelligence that helped Erdogan preserve his reign. This vital intelligence tip helped President Erdogan to undertake quick measures to thwart the chances for repeats of the failed coup. He launched quick punitive measures ignoring the calls from USA and Germany, EU to be “democratic” and not to punish their plotters of the coup.
An Iranian official saw parallels between the successful coup against Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953 and the failed coup attempt in Turkey. “What we know is that this coup move was triggered by foreign hands. We went through the same in the past, and because Erdogan is today looking forward to playing a better role in the region, they want him down.” There was a message that was conveyed to Turkish security officials: This coup might be made up of several waves; it happened in Iran in 1953. When the first coup failed, they had another one ready — and they succeeded in Iran.”
However, some politicians and experts in Iran who work against Saudi-Iran ties and have argued that Tehran should not react “too harshly” as Erdogan did in recent days as a reaction to a coup attempt.
Cooperation, sympathy, unified and serious political and economic decisions by Iran and Turkey regarding the move is significant. Iranian spiritual leader Imam Khamenei said that Iran and Turkey should do everything possible to counter the coup issue and the Iraqi government should take decisions seriously and take measures to that effect.
The Leader Imam Khamenei stressed the need to enhance economic cooperation between these two countries; he stressed the importance of cooperation between Tehran and Ankara regarding serious problems faced by the Islamic world from East Asia and Myanmar to North Africa. He described such cooperation as very significant and effective, saying it will benefit both nations as well as the Islamic world. “Unfortunately, despite numerous capacities, level of economic collaboration has not increased at all and more needs to be done on the field,” Imam Khamenei said.
The Leader expressed pleasure over Iran-Turkey cooperation in Astana talks and improving trend of Syrian issues as a result of the collaboration. But the issue of ISIL will not end this way; rather it requires a long-term actual plan.
So while, today on the face of it, this Turkey-Iran alliance against the Israeli-US agenda is a good thing, few in the Middle East will view it without strong suspicions, especially about Turkey’s role.
It is indeed a positive development that Iran and Turkey have identified their common foes and forged a solid foundation in regional unity that would be a model for all Arab nations as well.
It looks as if the core Sunni alliance Saudi-UAE-Egyptian axis is trying to establish a new regional order targeting Iran and supported by the Trump government and Israel, and condoned by countries like Jordan. The logical part of this alliance is political Islam, and they are also eager to rope in Islamist Turkey as well, but Turkey has a larger goal in the WA region. Since they publicly announced their main enemy is Iran, Turkey stays away from any anti-Iran or anti-Islamic alliance.
Turkey considers Tehran its trustworthy partner in containing Israeli criminal operations in Palestine, the Arab world. Therefore, this new Saudi led regional order, if imposed, would be detrimental to Islam, to the legitimate interests of both regional powers and eventually work against the trio as well. But Riyadh is eager to get SA attack Iran – a goal of Israel too and hence Saudi moves towards Israel.
Saudi Arabia wants to oblige Washington by targeting Qatar. The most obvious manifestation of the trio struggle for regional order to be dominated by Riyadh was on full display during the latest Gulf crisis targeting Qatar.
Neither Iran nor Turkey regarded this crisis as an isolated confrontation between Qatar and the Gulf-Arab coalition. Both consider the Saudi move a dangerous twist against genuine interests of Islam and regional powers.
Turkey and Iran both opposed the Saudi-led block’s moves against Qatar. In fact, during the initial phase of the crisis, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif paid a rare visit to Turkey to discuss, among other issues, what was happening in the Gulf.
Further, Iran and Turkey have decided to adopt a joint mechanism to contain Zionist criminal designs. Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami said that Iran and Turkey, as two influential countries in the Mideast region, will stop new scenario of the Zionist regime of Israel and that protecting the regional countries’ territorial integrity is Iran’s principled policy.
The emergence of the Syrian Kurdish bloc led by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) as a major player in Syria has pushed Turkey to re-evaluate its Syrian policy. It has prioritized pushing back against the gains of the Syrian Kurds for regime change in Syria, and this new strategy has become the thorniest issue in Turkish-American relations. Erdogan stressed the need for the establishment of a robust unity between Iran and Turkey in the region. “We managed to conclude negotiations with the Iranian president on Syria and Iraq.”
Cooperation among Iran, Turkey, and Iraq can be efficient and helpful in establishing stability and security in the region and countering division seeking actions. Iran attaches great importance to Turkey in its foreign policy.
Two issues cause particular concern in Turkey and Iran: the perceived opacity of US policy and the political ambitions of the Kurds for a sovereign nation. Iran is anxiously awaiting whether the USA, coerced by Israel, economically powerful US Jewish community, will switch its regional policy from ISIL-first to Iran-first policy shortly. Turkey is disturbed by the fact that it can’t figure out the durability of the USA for the Kurds in Syria and the end goal of this partnership in Syria.
Both countries are also concerned about the overall aims of the US Syria policy especially about Kurds. The prospect of Kurdish statehood in Iraq and autonomy in Syria and the potential spillover effect these could have on the Kurdish population in Turkey and Iran generate much anxiety in both capitals.
US strategy is to divide the emerging Turkey-Iran equations and splitting the Arab world by using Israel that is ever ready to play its devastating role in west Asian crises. Both USA and Israel, killing the besieged Palestinians, including children and women, like wild owls, watch every move Arab leaders and Iran and take “precautionary steps” to keep them divided on a permanent basis.
Ahead of Erdogan’s visit, the Turkish foreign ministry announced that it wants Baghdad to take over from the KRG the control of the border between Turkey and the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. On September 25, voters in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq voted overwhelmingly to back a split from Baghdad, setting off a regional crisis. Neighbouring Turkey and Iran, as well as Iraq’s central government in Baghdad, have opposed the referendum, and have threatened to impose sanctions on the KRG should it decide to go ahead with its decision to declare an independent state. The UN and the USA, have also opposed the Kurdish referendum, saying it would distract operations against ISIL, as well as the civil war in Syria.
Turkey has been in alignment with the Kurdish conservative nationalist current, whereas the Marxist-nationalist current led by the PKK has had working ties with Iran and its allies such as the Iraqi central government until recently.
KRG is Turkey’s largest trading partner next to Europe. Turkey stands to lose a lot more if its relations with Iraqi Kurdistan deteriorate. Last year trade between the two countries was estimated to be at least $7bn, and it is expected to increase to $14bn this year. That is why until now Turkey has not shut down the borders.
Within Iran, there are an estimated six to eight million ethnic Kurds, but there has been no significant separatist movement among the ethnic population within its border. The KRG President Masoud Barzani was born in the Kurdish region of Iran. Iran has maintained longstanding relations with Iraqi Kurds, supporting Kurdish armed groups during the rule of the Shah before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. During the Iran-Iraq war, the Kurds sided with Iran against Saddam Hussein, and Iran opened its doors to the families of Kurdish leaders during that conflict. Saddam also targeted both the Iranian and the Kurds supposedly with chemical weapons.
However, Iran, too, is concerned with Kurdish political ambitions, particularly those of the Iraqi Kurds. The independence of Iraqi Kurdistan would diminish the status of Iraq – a Shia-majority country over which Iran has a significant level of influence – regarding population, geography, hydrocarbon wealth, and water resources. An independent Iraqi Kurdistan is also likely to be closer to the West, Turkey, Israel, and arguably Gulf states than to Iran. Despite Iran’s anxiety about PYD’s expanding partnership with the USA and territorial control, it still keeps its cold peace with the group. This policy reflects that Iran and the PKK’s Iranian offshoot PJAK have kept the ceasefire they concluded in 2011.
Kurdish statehood could also create plenty of domestic trouble for Iran. The ties of the Iranian Kurdish population and parties with their Iraqi Kurdish brethren are more solid than those with Turkish Kurds. Most Iranian Kurdish parties have deep historical ties with the Iraqi Kurdish parties. In fact, the leadership of the Iranian Kurdish parties, Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDP-I) and the left-wing Komala are active in Iraqi Kurdistan. These shared concerns don’t translate into shared interests in Turkish-Iranian relations.
Although Turkey and Iran are worried about Kurdish statehood, Turkey’s interests lie in minimizing the PKK-PYD threat, while the political projections of Iraq’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) are rather tolerable (even if Ankara opposes its latest push for independence, it is still much less of a threat than an autonomous pro-PKK body in northern Syria).
For Iran, it is the opposite: The break-off of Iraqi Kurdistan bodes ill for its policies in Iraq, and it would do anything to prevent it; the PKK and PYD’s presence in Syria and Iraq, however, is no more than a nuisance.
Apart from the Kurdish issue in Iraq, Iran and Turkey have other diverging interests. Ankara has been disturbed by the twin processes of the centralization and sectarianization of the Iraqi state. In principle, Ankara supports the strengthening of the central government to curb the irredentist aspirations of Iraqi Kurdistan, but this could mean the domination of sectarian politics as the Shia groups retain more state power – a trend already in place in the country’s security architecture.
This process was in full force under the pro-Iranian premiership of Nouri al-Maliki between 2006 and 2014, and his policies were arguably largely supported by Iran. Tehran now also supports the Iraqi central government’s sectarian policies and use of Shia militias in the areas that have been cleared from ISIL. This runs the risk of further aggravating Turkey’s allies in Iraq – the Iraqi Sunnis and the KDP. Ankara and Tehran have different interest in Syria as well. Although Turkey has stopped calling for regime change in Damascus, it is still not in a position to condone the total elimination of the opposition. Like the regime, Iran seems to favor inflicting as much destruction on the opposition as possible. At the same time, it is striving to convince Turkey to open channels with the regime, using the Syrian Kurdish territorial expansion as a pretext.
Developments in the West Asian region during the past years have served the interests of the Zionist regime and harmed the world of Islam and have marginalized the issue of Palestine.
Arab world depends too much on the support USA that is visibly n a permanent war on Islam with the Islamic world, Muslims for their lives and resources. Now Trump, who gets tips from his Jewish son in law on foreign policy, seems to have forces Saudi Arabia to “listen” to Israel as well. Saudi Arabia is under an illusion about US support for Sunni led Islamic world.
Some common concerns have recently emerged between Turkey and Iran, which has facilitated the recent thaw in relations. Two factors have been particularly important. First, the struggle to establish a post-Arab Spring regional order has generated anxiety in both Ankara and Tehran. Second, the struggle for the post-‘Arab Spring’ regional order as per the wishes of Saudi kingdom has coincided with the post-ISIL futures of Iraq and Syria.
Part-2: Economics and Prospects
Iran is a major oil and gas exporter, while Turkey is entirely dependent on oil and gas imports. Also, the international sanctions that have led to Iran’s economic isolation have brought that country closer to Turkey for purposes of investment and trade in non-oil goods. The expansion of economic relations with Iran is part of Turkey’s initiative to expand trade relations with its Middle Eastern neighbors.
Iran provides Turkey with the energy it needs for economic development. Iran has been viewing Turkey as a country through which it can break the spell of western sanctions, especially since 2011 when financial sanctions caused a serious challenge to Iran’s banking. Since then Turkey has emerged as Iran’s economic lifeline.
Turkey imports about 10 billion cubic meters a year of gas from Iran, about 30 percent of its needs Turkey plans to invest $12 billion in developing phases 22, 23 and 24 of South Pars gas field, a senior Iranian oil official told Shana.ir. Two-way trade is now in the range of $10 billion (2010), and both governments have announced that the figure should reach the $20 billion mark in the not too distant future. 50 percent of the gas from three phases of Iran’s South Pars gas field will be re-exported to Europe. Turkey has won the tender for privatization of Razi Petrochemical Complex valued at $650 million.
Turkey is a transit route for energy to European customers. Turkey is a crucial transit route for Iranian imports from Europe. Also, Iran is the third largest provider of Turkey’s natural gas, after Russia and Iraq. Energy trade between Iran and Turkey serves the interests of both states. That means Turkey is facing an increasing local demand for energy, and Iran considers Turkey as a developing foreign market for energy.
Bilateral trade between Iran and Turkey has indeed increased steadily in the past ten years in close conjunction with improved diplomatic relations. Iran has emerged as a major supplier of oil and gas to Turkey: In the first quarter of 2011, Iran was the leading exporter of crude oil to Turkey, with a 30 percent share of Turkey’s total oil imports, while it was also the third largest provider of Turkey’s natural gas, after Russia and Iraq. Turkey’s increasing energy imports, along with the higher price of oil and natural gas, had increased the value of Turkey’s imports from Iran from $1.9 billion (2 percent of total imports) in 2004 to $6.9 billion (3.9 percent of the total) in 2010.
Emerging economic ties promote common political identity. Iran and Turkey have interdependence economic relations in the five areas of energy, transit, border trade, economic crises and commercial ties. Trade and energy cooperation based on interdependence with close neighbors, especially a powerful neighbor such as Turkey, would be the safest way for Iran to ward off the impact of Western sanctions. And this practical approach has turned Turkey into an important trade partner for Iran. Turkey is energy. Iran is at the top of the list of countries selling oil to Turkey.
Iran and Turkey have very close trade and economic relations. Both countries are part of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). Iranian First Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi announced in October 2012 that the speed of trade exchanges between Iran and Turkey has accelerated and was close to reaching the goal of 30 billion dollars per year. He added that the growing trade relations between Tehran and Ankara indicate the two countries’ willingness to strengthen mutual ties.
With the implementation of the nuclear deal, the two countries now plan to triple their trade volume to $30 billion. Turkey seeks good relations with Iran; Turkey has also tried to maintain good relations with the GCC States and with the United States, which are at odds with Iran over numerous issues. Turkey and Iran have also experienced some tensions in recent months because of their opposite stands on the Syrian conflict. While Iran has strongly supported the Bashar Assad regime, Turkey has joined the United States and the GCC states in expressing support for the uprising.
A factor that’s lead to an expansion of bilateral relations is the “economic crisis and war” factor. After Iran’s Islamic Revolution and during the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq, Iran was in a state of political and economic isolation and dealing with the aftermath of the war, while doing trade with Iran was lucrative for Turkey.
When the big banks in Europe, and Asia, especially the ones in Dubai refused to transfer money into and out of Iran, some Turkish financial institutes rushed to Iran’s rescue. For instance, Halkbank, 75% of which is owned by the Turkish government, started to pay the Indian oil company to buy its oil from Iran.
The Islamist AKP gave top priority to improving Turkey’s relations with Middle Eastern countries—, particularly Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Iran welcomed the rise of the AKP, which significantly reduced the secular-Islamic ideological tensions that had often led to heated accusations between Iranian and Turkish politicians after the 1979 revolution.
Bilateral trade between the nations is increasing. In 2005, the trade increased to $4 billion from $1 billion in 2000. Iran’s gas export to Turkey is likely to be increased. At present, the rate is at 50mm cm/d. The year 2002 is significant in Turkish-Iranian relations for another, even more important, reason: The moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power that year after scoring a major success in Turkish parliamentary elections.
Bilateral economic relations between Turkey and Iran have grown at a rapid pace during the past decade, and both economies now depend heavily on these relations. Also, Turkish-Iranian relations are not only important to both countries but have assumed a geopolitical significance for Western powers and Middle Eastern countries alike because of the impact that they might have on the success or failure of Western sanctions against Iran. In the past decade, Iran’s strong economic relations with Turkey have helped partially offset the pressure of unilateral Western sanctions.
Iran and Turkey also shared common objectives concerning the Kurdish region of Iraq and the Kurdish separatist movements in both countries. Through diplomatic negotiations, they agreed to work to prevent the disintegration of Iraq, which might have led to the creation of an independent Kurdish homeland. They also agreed to cooperate in the fight against separatist and terrorist movements along their common borders.
Turkey has also tried to maintain good relations with the GCC States and with the United States, which are at odds with Iran over numerous issues. Turkey and Iran have also experienced some tensions in recent months because of their opposite stands on the Syrian conflict.
The US government warned Turkish firms and financial institutions about the possibility of losing access to the American market if they continued to deal with Iran. The Turkish government has so far refused to implement any of the unilateral sanctions that the U.S. and the European Union have imposed on Iran.
The sanctions have prompted Iran to shift its foreign investments from Dubai to Turkey, so much so that the number of Iranian firms in Turkey increased from 319 in 2002 to 2072 in 2011. Furthermore, the two countries have announced plans to increase the volume of their economic transactions to 30 billion dollars by 2015.
The economy factor is one of the reasons that has facilitated the political relations between the two countries to continue since the Islamic Revolution in Iran. A case in point is Turkey’s support for Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities in 2007 (political cooperation). On the other hand, high-ranking diplomatic visits by the two countries’ political figures are an example of the continued political relations between the two neighbors. A case in point is President Rouhani’s two-day trip to Turkey on June 19 of this year. Accompanying Dr. Rouhani to Ankara were the Iranian Central Bank Manager and some private sector Chambers of Commerce representatives. At the same time as President Rouhani’s trip to Turkey, the two countries signed 10 cooperation documents for investment in bilateral infrastructural projects such as transportation, transport and export of gas, borderline industrial regions, and commercial development.
Thus, economic relations is among important factors that have prevented Iran and Turkey from cutting relations over occasional tensions like the Syrian crisis.
Is there a Turkey-Iran rapprochement?
Undoubtedly! Turkey-Iran rapprochement is real.
Obviously, there has been a sort of trust deficit in the bilateral relations as the foes of Islam continue to confuse both Islamic nations. USA, Israel, and Germany are keen to disrupt emerging alliance of Turkey, Iran, Russia and Saudi Arabia. One of the key objectives of NATO is to see Islamic world is not united and it does not come under Russian influence.
Turkish-Iranian relations have always defied any general characterization. The two neighbors have never had a straightforward alliance, feud, cooperation or rivalry. Instead, their relationship always carried all these elements simultaneously. There have been times in which the relationship has seemed to be tilting one way or another, and this has generated more debate, controversy, and confusion about the nature and future course of the relations between the two countries.
Despite the warming up of relations, there remains a mutual mistrust between Tehran and Ankara. They are saying that Erdogan could not be trusted and we shouldn’t follow Turkey’s footsteps for countering Kurdistan, by showing muscles and military power. Such misgivings must be ironed quickly, and new dynamism in bilateral relations must be ensured.
As a NATO member and a military ally of the USA, Turkey cannot support the USA against Iran as that will be highly unpopular among AKP supporters, general public. Turkey might be asked to provide logistical support to the US Army. In case of a war between the superpower and Persia and Turkey would only play a pivotal role in neutralizing tensions between them. It is no wonder therefore that Turkey is opposed to military action against Iran and is trying very hard to facilitate a negotiated settlement to Iran’s nuclear dispute with the West.
The Kurdish referendum crisis has pushed Turkey and Iran to set aside their differences for the time being. There has been no sign of secessionism seen in Iran in the two past decades. But when a crisis occurs next to Iran’s borders, it is natural for Tehran to get worried about them.
In response to the referendum, Erdogan warned of military action to stop the KRG splitting from Iraq and “ethnic and sectarian war.”
The main reason behind Iran’s opposition, perhaps, is that cessation of Kurdistan will harm the integrity of Iraq, and can create a new conflict near Iran’s borders and will also distract everyone from combating ISIL.
The question being asked in the media is: Can common concerns about US policies in the Middle East and Kurdish statehood ambitions bring Turkey and Iran together?
Turkish-Iranian relations are now being seen as moving towards cooperation, if not alliance-building. Such a characterization, however, is premature and is reading too much into diplomatic niceties.
In recent times, the diplomatic traffic between Ankara and Tehran seems to have intensified. As recently as August, a large Iranian military delegation headed by the military chief of staff Mohammad Hossein Bagheri visited Ankara, meeting their military counterparts as well as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The latter is also expected to pay a visit to Tehran soon.
This recent uptick in diplomatic activity should be seen in the context of a recent convergence of concerns and threat perceptions in the Middle East. However, it should not be interpreted as anything more than that, as USA-Israel duo is ill-focused on Arab nations and as Turkey and Iran continue to have diverging, if not conflicting, interests, especially in Iraq and Syria.
Unity in purpose has brought Iran and Turkey closer. Comprehending the challenges and conspiracies of enemies of Islam and the anti-Islamic people of their own respective country, being promoted by USA, Germany, Israel, India among others has indeed helped European Turkey and Asian Iran to realize their unified role in the region and world at large.
Like Turkey, Iran also takes a proper and positive view of regional issues – unlike official narrow-mindedness of Saudi Arabia seeking to US-Isreali support to destroy Iran, and consider even truly fascist anti-Islamic Israel as an ally fight Shiite Iran. Emerging realignment between them, in fact, bring the major branches of Islam (Sunni and Shiia) to view each other as their brethren and not as the prime foe. Turkey a Sunni nation has evolved a pragmatic policy towards Iran and Saudi Arabia, trying to bring all Arab nations work together, though Riyadh continues to be controlled by Washington.
Today, the Islamic world and even in West Asia is in the deadly division and there is no coherent Islamic policy by all of them that, if implemented, would benefit Islam and Muslim nations. Muslim nations like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia foolishly believe that USA and Israel would help them reach the heaven if they align with them.
Hypocrisy, cowardice, and foolishness cannot be the Islamic policy.
True, against the flow of anti-Islamism and Islamophobia, Turkey’s ties with Iran have been fluctuating as issues continue to dominate and check their strong bond from progressing in a big way. The fuel for Turkish-Iranian rapprochement was provided by their shared concerns. Nevertheless, the level at which they can cooperate remains conditional and constrained by their divergent interests in the region.
Over the past ten years, Iran and Turkey have managed to expand their diplomatic and economic relations to a heretofore unprecedented level. This transformation was, in no small part, a result of the political ascent in Turkey, since 2002, of the moderate Islamist AKP party. The AKP’s interest in closer relations with Iran has both ideological and economic roots. Unlike previous secular Turkish governments, the AKP is not worried that closer relations with Iran might result in the spread of radical Islam within Turkey.
Although economic ties are rapidly growing, some tensions and conflicts of interest still exist between the two nations. Iran and Turkey have emerged as the two main competitors for trade and foreign investment in Iraq, and they are both entangled in the Syrian civil war. So far both sides have prevented these tensions from affecting their bilateral economic relations. High-level negotiations and agreements on economic issues are likely to continue in the coming months.
The USA and Israel have put strategy of disintegrating the regional countries on the agenda after the failure of Daesh scenario, but Iran and Turkey, as two important and influential regional countries, will not let them enact the new scenario. Iran has vigorously sought to expand economic ties with Turkey in the face of growing Western sanctions—to such a high level that it will be costly for Turkey to cooperate with Western sanctions. As one of the immediate outcomes of sharp Turkish upsurge, its military ally USA, obviously pushed by Israel, has created restrictions on Turks which President Erdogan calls unfortunate.
Iran-Turkey cooperation can heavily help the regional peace and stability. Turkey also supports the territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria and is against any move to change borders. The ruling AKP’s vision for Turkish foreign policy, as developed by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, has put great emphasis on improving relations with all of Turkey’s neighbors, particularly in the Middle East.
On Kurdish question, Turkey and Iran have similar views. Based on certain documents and evidence, the USA and Israel have reached a general agreement regarding the Iraqi Kurdish subject and, President Erdogan said President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani made an unforgivable mistake by holding the referendum. Unless and until Turkey believes that it is establishing some balance of interests or influence vis-a-vis Iran in Iraq and Syria, any cooperation with its eastern neighbor will remain fraught with latent or overt tensions and grievances. While the Kurdish issue has drawn Turkey and Iran together, Iran has the least concern about Kurds.
The open US support for the Syrian Kurds is what is primarily motivating Turkey to seek closer relations with Iran as well as Russia. Any change in US policy towards the Syrian Kurds will have a direct impact on Ankara’s relations with Tehran.
However, anti-Islamic devils do not stop scheming against Islam, the Arab world, Turkey, and Iran, among others. All strenuous efforts by USA-Isreali twins to disallow any real alliance between Russia and Turkey failed badly in the face of the US-Israel-EU scheming for the failed coup in Turkey, targeting President Erdogan and Islamist government of ruling AKP. The Turkish government would continue its balancing act between Iran and the USA.
Like wild owls and vultures seeking flesh and blood for their survival, Israel-USA fascist fanatics are keen to dismantle any positive development in Islamic relations globally, especially in West Asia. They view unity of Islamic world, particularly among Iran and Saudi Arabia and Turkey in West Asia, would make these civilizational rogue states irrelevant internationally.
All said and done; there is a win-win situation for Turkey-Iran relations to grow further in strength and purpose.