Iran – Turkey Relations — American Iranian Council
The analysis shows that the Turkish-Iranian relationship can be described as a .. About a quarter of Iran's population are Azeris living in the north of the country . Iran seeks to increase pressure on the US in Syria and portray its factor which is frustrating efforts at a peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict. area, where the interests of Russia, Turkey and Iran could conveniently align. Traditionally, Iranian and Turkish relations have been characterized by an eastern area of the embattled city of Raqqa in northern Syria, Aug.
Turkey presented Central Asia with the so-called "Turkish model," emphasizing ethnic Turkic ties, secularism, integration into Western economic and political institutions, and increased trade and cultural ties. Turkey's success in the region was mixed. It did not appear to be the main influence in the regional rivalry; however, the pessimistic prediction that Turkey would become irrelevant and loose all ground to Russia and Iran did not come true, either.
The most important factor behind Turkey's success has been Western support for its increased role in Central Asia and the South Caucasus. A second major factor has been the U. The United States supported Turkey's political, economic and military influence in these two regions.
For example, Washington vehemently opposed the transport of Caspian oil and gas through Iran, instead supporting projects that would go through Turkey, and prevented countries like Georgia and Armenia from developing stronger economic and political ties with Iran. From the early s, Iran ceased the "small-Satan" rhetoric against Russia and developed closer ties with it against Turkey and the United States.
Iran's approach to the Central Asian Turkic republics included promoting Islamic ideology, supporting Islamist movements and developing some economic relations through energy trade. This shifted the focus of Turkey-Iran competition from south to north. The Gulf War of changed the dynamics in the region. After its invasion of Kuwait, Saddam Hussein's Iraq, one of the leading military powers in the region, controlled the world's second largest oil reserves.
Iran and Turkey approached this crisis differently. Iran, on the other hand, took a very pragmatic approach. Although some expected the Islamic Republic to support Iraq as an example of Muslim solidarity against the United States, Tehran preferred to stay neutral during a conflict that would weaken their greatest adversary in the region.
Such developments also strengthened the loose alliances between Iran and Syria and Turkey and Israel. Turkish-Israeli cooperation in military technology and intelligence, which was strongly supported by the United States, was repeatedly protested by Iran and Syria. By using the vacuum created by the United States and its allies north of the thirty-sixth parallel in Iraq, the PKK operated freely and conducted its largest attacks on Turkey.
Ankara attempted to end Iranian and Syrian support for the PKK through diplomatic efforts, but these did not prove effective. Against Turkish-Azeri cooperation on energy transportation, Iran used the PKK card to destabilize the region, particularly its oil pipelines. PKK fighters were able to freely cross the Iraqi, Iranian and Syrian borders, making it very difficult for the Turkish armed forces to pursue them. Turkish incursions into northern Iraq, and occasionally Iranian territory, were condemned by the Iranian government.
New Era of Middle East Politics: Are Turkey-Iran Relations Genuinely Improving?
In Julythe activities of PKK guerrillas who crossed the Iranian border and attacked Turkish military posts led to a serious crisis between the two countries that could have turned into an armed conflict. Exploiting concerns that an independent Kurdistan could cause Iraq to disintegrate, Turkey initiated three-party talks with Iran and Syria to observe the situation in Iraq.
These meetings reassured the three countries of their joint interest in the territorial unity of Iraq. However, full cooperation with Iran against the PKK was never achieved. On the contrary, Iran and Turkey engaged in a proxy war in Northern Iraq during this period. Iranian officials argued Turkey's invasions were not only a violation of international law, but the sovereign rights and territorial integrity of the Muslim Iraqi nation. When Turkey accused Iran of supplying bases, transportation, medicine, hospitals and uniforms, Iran denied the allegations and blamed them on the Turkish military, Israel and the United States.
In the early s, Turkey experienced the political murders of several journalists, opinion leaders, and other public figures, causing a huge stir in the country. These intellectuals were exclusively secularists and leftists who opposed Islamic political movements and Iran's policies in the region.
The suspects in these assassinations had allegedly been trained in Iran. Tehran repeatedly denied any connection to these assassinations and to date, connections between the Iranian government and the political assassinations of secular thinkers in Turkey have not been proven.
The political chill started thawing during the tenure of the first Islamist prime minister of Turkey, Necmettin Erbakan, who visited Tehran during August and signed various economic agreements. In DecemberTurkey and Iran signed five new agreements concerning economic relations.
The desire of Erbakan's government to extend cooperation to the military and defense sectors was opposed by the Turkish military bureaucracy. Domestic Political Challenges, The Kurdish and Islamist questions continued to challenge Turkish-Iranian relations in the late s and early s.
In fact, this period witnessed the worst of all crises in Turkish-Iranian relations since the revolution in Political developments in the following months led Erbakan to resign in June, and his Welfare Party RP was shut down by the courts the following year. This period in Turkish history, involving a power struggle between the secularist military and an Islamist prime minister, is called " the February 28 coup," or "the post-modern coup" by some academics. TAF influenced Turkey's defense and foreign policies to a great extent during this period, when its most serious international challenges were relations with Iran and Syria.
The two gravest problems in Turkey — the Kurdish question and the Islamist challenge — were both related to Iran's policies. Iran was vilified by Turkish secularist and mainstream media because it allegedly supported Islamist movements and even the Kurdish Hezbollah that was operating in Turkey. He was asked to leave Turkey in after a speech in which he supported the Islamist movements in Turkey.
He also promoted the establishment of an Islamist system in Turkey and openly criticized its secularism. In retaliation, Iran expelled the Turkish ambassador to Tehran the same year. When the secularists protested against her, and she was not allowed to be sworn in, Islamist circles in Turkey were outraged.
During this period, the two countries' media engaged in a "war of bombast. Turkish officials claimed that leaders of Hezbollah received political and military training from Iranian security and intelligence forces, worked as spies for the Iranian government and were involved in political killings in Turkey during the s.
However, regional, systemic and domestic developments in led Iran to reduce tensions with Turkey. First, the political conflict among the Iranian elite in this period focused on Iran's domestic dynamics.
Fearing a general Kurdish movement in the region and a separatist one on its own soil, Iran decreased its support for the PKK significantly. Taking all these factors into account, Iran decided to suspend relations with the PKK until regional developments, such as a possible U. The eighth joint security meeting of the Turkey-Iran Commission on Security Cooperation, held in Octoberresulted in assurances from Iran that it would prevent the PKK from launching attacks into Turkey.
Turkey also promised to cease political support for the National Liberation Movement of South Azerbaijan, an organization operating in the state of Azerbaijan. Iran's domestic political struggle between reformist President Khatemi and conservatives also contributed to Tehran's willingness to decrease tensions with its neighbors. Justice and Development Party AKP governments have continued to rule Turkey since then, changing the course of Turkey's foreign policy, as well as its relations with Iran.
Iran-Turkey relations | The Times of Israel
In its first three years, the AKP government focused on improving relations with the European Union and, to some extent, with the United States. Therefore, the AKP focused on improving relations with Western countries in order to consolidate its position both at home and abroad.
During this period, the AKP gained control of foreign-policy making in Turkey by strengthening its authority over the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the TAF, and various bureaucratic institutions, as well as public opinion. The backbone of post Turkish foreign policy was built during this period. The relationship with Iran was not at the top of the AKP's foreign-policy agenda during In this period, Iran's most important foreign-policy concern was the changing global and regional fallout from the September 11 attacks in the United States.
Iran continued to support Palestinian groups and Hezbollah with weapons and built up its nuclear program and missile systems. It also increased its presence in post-invasion Iraq, maintained its alliance with Syria, and cooperated with Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi army and other insurgent groups in Iraq. These regional and domestic developments provided a conducive environment for the rapprochement between Iran and Turkey.
The interests of the two countries overlapped to a great extent in this period, largely due to the American-led invasion of Iraq. Both the governments and the publics in Iran and Turkey were strongly opposed to the invasion of Iraq.
Turkey went against its long-term U. For both Iran and Turkey, the American invasion meant being less able to exert influence over Iraq and domestic clients such as the Kurdish and Shia groups.
In addition, due to their own domestic Kurdish populations, Iran and Turkey have been wary of the disintegration of Iraq and the rise of an independent Kurdistan. Islamism has also contributed to the rapprochement between the two countries. AKP foreign policy included the spreading of Turkey's influence through its economic power as a "trading state.
Iranian-Turkish Relations Deepen with Shared Regional Goals
To break its economic and political isolation, Iran found support from Turkey, a NATO member and EU candidate and therefor a valuable asset for its foreign-policy aims. Finally, growing dissent in Iranian Kurdistan led Tehran to cease support for PKK activities against Turkey, effectively weakening the Turkish foreign-policy elite's security-oriented perspective and the TAF's traditionally cautious attitude toward Iran. In the post period, a growing disappointment with the course of the EU-membership negotiations led Ankara to further develop its relations with Middle Eastern states.
The negotiations have been effectively blocked by the Cyprus issue and Franco-German opposition to Turkey.
This led the AKP's more conservative Islamist wing to increase its influence in foreign affairs. Turkey not only improved its relations with Iran and Syria in various areas; it disagreed with Israel and the United States on issues such as Israel's military operations in Lebanon and Gaza. SinceTurkey has been supportive of Iran's nuclear program as long as it is used for peaceful purposes. Bilateral trade has risen to unprecedented levels, new energy-transportation deals have been made and others are being negotiated.
There has also been some military cooperation to fight the PKK. Diplomatic visits and friendly relations have burgeoned. The rapprochement between Turkey and Iran since may seem puzzling, given their historical rivalry.
They have made common cause in order to resist superpower policies and other alliances.
To resist superpower penetration into the region by means of the Afghan and Iraq wars, the two regional powers decided to cooperate.
Turkey and Iran have attempted to counterbalance the United States, especially regarding the future of Iraq, the Kurds in the region and the Palestinian question.
Turkey and Iran have stated their opposition to dismembering Iraq and creating an independent Kurdish state, thereby shaping the policy options of both Washington and Baghdad. Iran has continued its support for groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and Turkey mediated Syrian-Israeli and Israeli-Hamas relations until December Ankara has also criticized Israel's nuclear arsenal and U. All these developments approximated Turkish and Iranian foreign policies in the Middle East together.
In springafter Turkey voted against sanctions on Iran at the UNSC and the flotilla crisis56 occurred between Israel and Turkey, it seemed as if Middle East politics was determined by Turkey's and Iran's counterbalancing of the U. An initial thaw in economic relations occurred ingaining momentum since After Turkey and Iran began to settle their differences regarding the PKK, the Mujahedin el-Khalq and Iraq, however, economic relations began to improve.
A first step was Turkish President Ahmet Sezer's visit to Tehran infollowing the post collapse of the Turkish economy and new developments in the political relations of the two countries. Turkey is more industrialized than surrounding countries, and AKP policy makers aim to turn this into an advantage in foreign affairs. Therefore, exporting manufactured goods and services to Iran in return for gas and oil appears to be a beneficial policy.
On the other hand, improving economic ties with Turkey also has political consequences for Iran, as Turkey has preferred to improve economic relations in spite of UN sanctions. Turkey has already defied warnings by the United States not to further improve gas- transportation deals with Iran, Turkey's second-largest natural-gas supplier.
The first pipeline agreement between the two was signed in Sincethe two countries have been negotiating deals to improve cooperation and the construction of pipelines that would transport Iranian gas to European markets.
The Nabucco project, which will transport Caspian gas to eastern and central European markets to decrease Europe's dependency on Russian gas, is likely to be at the center of discussions in the near future.
In case Azerbaijan's gas supplies prove inadequate, Turkey and Iran propose gas exports from Iran to European markets via Turkey. The AKP government is likely to side with Iran on this matter if the latter's involvement in Nabucco proves necessary in the future.
The most important regional issue will continue to be Iraq and the Kurds. Since the invasion of Iraq by a U. If Turkish-Iranian security cooperation against the PKK is maintained, Turkey will be more likely to cooperate with Iran on other matters as well. However, the Kurdish issue is only of secondary interest to Iran. Iran's major concern is its relationship with the United States. Regarding other issues involving Iraq, however, Turkey and Iran may find themselves at odds.
Turkey has also built good relations with Sunni Arab countries in the Gulf over the past years, and this would affect its policies towards further Sunni-Shia conflict. Iran's nuclear program and Turkey's attitude towards it are likely to be the greatest challenges in the near future. Developments in confirmed that Iran has advanced its nuclear program and the possibility that it could produce a nuclear bomb in the future.
The Turkish prime minister repeatedly stated that Turkey is against nuclear proliferation in the region; yet, the government believes Iran's nuclear technology is "solely for peaceful purposes.
Emphasizing the importance of the nuclear-swapping agreement brokered by Turkey and Brazil earlier that month, Turkey claimed sanctions will not resolve the Iranian nuclear issue. Siding with Iran on the nuclear issue and the crisis with Israel has increased pressure on the AKP government to a great degree, and within the party, there is a debate about the future of Turkish foreign policy.
If he takes a pragmatic stance for his political survival, a revision of Turkey's foreign policy both on Iran and the Middle East might be expected. If AKP loses the elections, a new government is less likely to maintain its pro-Iran policy.
Several regions in Turkey were visited and attempts at close friendship and cooperation between the two leaders were made.
Reza Shah Pahlavi was reportedly impressed by the republic's modernization reforms and he saw this as an example for his own country. This treaty would become known as the Treaty of Saadabad. The purpose of this agreement was to ensure security and peace in the Middle East.
A period of coldness passed after the Iranian Revolution which caused major changes in Iran and the Middle Eastern status quo. Today Iran and Turkey closely cooperate in a wide variety of fields that range from fighting terrorismdrug traffickingand promoting stability in Iraq and Central Asia.
Turkey is the same distance from both of them. What has the international community said against Israel so far? Is this the superiority of law or the law of superiors? However, Turkey's neutral stance with regards to the disputes between Israel and Iran has secured the maintenance of friendly bilateral relations. Turkey's relations with Israel have deteriorated after the Gaza War —09the Gaza flotilla raid and the Israel—Gaza conflict. From toTurkey had no diplomatic relations with Israel in the ambassadorial level.
Since the Arab Spring[ edit ] Iran's relations with Turkey have occasionally soured over the AKP government's active involvement in regional disputes between Shia and Sunni groups since the dawn of the Arab Spring.
Turkey and Iran's differing geopolitical goals in Syria and Iraq have also led to increased tension and suspicion.