Is there re­ally a Turkey-Iran rap­proche­ment?

The Miracle - - Middle East - By:Galip Dalay Source: Arab­news

Can com­mon con­cerns about US poli­cies in the Mid­dle East and Kur­dish state­hood am­bi­tions bring Turkey and Iran to­gether? Turk­ish-Ira­nian re­la­tions have al­ways de­fied any gen­eral char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion. The two neigh­bours 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. We are now pass­ing through such a pe­riod. Turk­ish-Ira­nian re­la­tions are now be­ing seen as mov­ing to­wards co­op­er­a­tion, if not alliance-build­ing. Such a char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion, 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 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 Turkey and Iran con­tinue to have di­verg­ing, if not con­flict­ing, in­ter­ests, es­pe­cially in Iraq and Syria. Com­mon con­cerns A num­ber of com­mon con­cerns have re­cent- ly emerged be­tween Turkey and Iran, which has fa­cil­i­tated the re­cent thaw in re­la­tions. Two fac­tors have been par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant. First of all, the strug­gle to es­tab­lish a postArab Spring re­gional or­der has gen­er­ated anx­i­ety in both Ankara and Tehran. The most ob­vi­ous man­i­fes­ta­tion of this strug­gle was on full dis­play dur­ing the lat­est Gulf cri­sis. Nei­ther Iran nor Turkey re­garded this cri­sis as an iso­lated con­fronta­tion be­tween 4atar and the Gulf-Arab coali­tion. The Saudi-Emi­rati-Egyp­tian axis is try­ing to es­tab­lish a new re­gional or­der sup­ported by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion and Is­rael, and con­doned by coun­tries like Jor­dan. The log­i­cal other of this alliance is po­lit­i­cal Is­lam, and by ex­ten­sion Turkey, and the pub­licly an­nounced en­emy is Iran. There­fore, this new re­gional or­der, if im­posed, would be detri­men­tal to the in­ter­ests of both re­gional pow­ers. Turkey and Iran both op­posed the Saudi-led block’s moves against 4atar. 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.

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