A More Resilient Chapter Opening in Middle East

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Siamak Kakaei
Expert on Turkey Issues

Turkey’s foreign policy has been undergoing relative changes following last month’s botched coup d’état and it seems that the period of inflexibility in the country’s foreign policy is over. One of the outcomes of the failed coup in the area of the country’s foreign policy was a new move by Turkey toward improvement of relations with neighboring countries, especially those countries which play an effective role in their peripheral regions. Therefore, a recent trip by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Russia despite tensions that exist between the two countries and the welcome given to Erdogan by Russian officials was evidence to this change in Turkey’s regional policies and a sign of Ankara’s determination to tone down its previously inflexible positions. Part of this new attitude has its root in the necessity of attracting more regional and international support for the government of the ruling Justice and Development Party following the failed military coup in the country. As for Russia, Moscow has other considerations in mind and Erdogan is trying to take advantage of this opportunity to normalize and expand relations with Russia, because both Turkey and Erdogan need this to pursue their goals in various fields. However, the type of approach that Turkish officials take to Iran is different from other neighboring countries.

This means that both Iran and Turkey are two important and effective actors in the region and the Islamic Republic of Iran was among the first countries to unequivocally condemn the military coup in its northwestern neighbor and offer support for Turkey’s legitimate government. This issue has been very important for officials in Ankara.

After what happened in past weeks, the recent visit to Turkey by Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has been a step taken to give credit to this assumption that Iran takes a supportive approach to its neighboring country. This visit was also very important for officials in Turkey. Therefore, it seems that Turkey is making serious review of its Middle Eastern policy and we will see a more resilient Turkey from now on.

Based on what we are witnessing, Iran and Russia can discuss a wide range of regional crises at various levels from the issue of Daesh to the situation in Syria, and the same issues can also constitute the most important axes of talks between Tehran and Ankara. Of course, Turkey’s approach to Syria is much different from that of Iran and Russia and, in other words, nobody can expect them to adopt a totally coordinated policy on this country, but the signs of change and turnabout in Turkey’s foreign policy are quite evident, a large part of which can be attributed to the necessity for Turkey to attract regional support and the fact that such support is very important to both Erdogan and his country.

On the other hand, this change can be related to existing tensions between Turkey and the United States of America over the case of Fethullah Gulen, who is currently living in the United States. These tensions have currently overshadowed Turkey’s foreign policy with regard to the United States and perhaps the recent inclination by Turkey toward the East, especially Iran and Russia, can be a sign of Ankara’s dissatisfaction with Washington. In addition, Turkish officials, especially Erdogan himself, are now more willing to take a more open approach to relations with these countries. Economic relations between Turkey and Russia, which are certainly in line with both countries’ interests, on the one hand, and the need to have sustainable relations with Iran, on the other hand, prove that there are many fields for further growth of relations among these three countries.

Last but not least, Iranian foreign minister’s visit to Turkey and the warm welcome given to Iran's anti-coup positions by Turkey’s officials in past weeks are all considered by Turkish officials as positive and effective signs of the existence of a strong will to boost cooperation between the two countries through such visits and consultations. It is, therefore, predictable that we will be witnessing a period of more resilience and openness in relations between Iran and Turkey.

Key WordsTurkey, Foreign Policy, Changes, Coup d’état, Inflexibility, Resilient, Middle East, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Justice and Development Party, Iran, Syria, Russia, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Daesh, Fethullah Gulen, Kakaei

Source: Farhikhtegan Newspaper
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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*Photo Credit: Press TV