Expansion of Strategic Relations between Iran and Turkey a Necessity

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Bahram Amir-Ahmadian
Tehran University Professor & Researcher at the Institute for Trade Studies and Research

It is true that Iran’s relations with Turkey have seen many ups and downs due to various regional and global developments in past years, but this special relationship has never reached the breaking point. The reason is that relations between Iran and Turkey are of a strategic nature. Both countries have capacities to exchange with each other as a result of which, despite all their differences, they are dependent on each other. Tehran and Ankara need each other both in security and historical and economic terms. On the one hand, Turkey is Iran’s gateway toward Europe while, on the other hand, Ankara needs Iran’s energy resources and imports its needed energy supply from Iran.

There are vast trade exchanges between the two sides and due to mutual dependence between the two countries, both of them try to resolve any tension that may come about in their relations. This is why, at the height of regional crises and despite opposition from Turkey’s biggest regional ally, Saudi Arabia, the country’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has paid an official visit to Iran. The trip was necessary because the two countries believe that despite all differences, they can exchange viewpoints and communicate their opinions to the other side. At present, the most important bone of contention between Iran and Turkey is the situation in Syria.

The two countries have totally different positions on Syria and the ongoing crisis in this country. However, their concerns about the Syria crisis emanate from totally different sources and this is why both countries need to communicate their viewpoints on the future of Syria to each other. Ankara’s most important concern in relation to the Syria crisis is about the national security of Turkey. Turkey has a long common border with Syria. Such a long border facilitates spillover of insecurity from Syria into Turkey, on the one hand, while on the other hand, stirring serious concerns in Ankara about further rise in the power of Kurds, possible establishment of an independent Kurdish region in Syria, and its impact on the Kurdish minority in Turkey. On the opposite, Iran has no common border with Syria and, for this reason, Tehran’s concerns over Syria stem from a totally different cause. More than anything else, the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran is worried about geostrategic situation in Syria. In strategic terms, Syria is very important to Iran and its position as a powerful base of support for the resistant front against the occupation of Palestine is among the most important issues that are of concern to Iran.

In the meantime, Iran’s policies, which are based on supporting the central government in Syria, have helped the Islamic Republic to follow a more logical and more acceptable approach toward that country because as long as a powerful central government is not in place in Syria, it would not be possible to hold a nationwide election or establish an alternative government in that country. It is just on this point that a major gap in views exists between Iran and Turkey. Turkey as well as its Western and Arab allies have different viewpoints on Syria compared to Iran and Russia. This is a reason for tension between Iran and Turkey because Turkey and Saudi Arabia form a single front as a result of which Saudi Arabia has sent its military forces to Turkey, so that, if the Syria crisis gets out of the control of Saudi Arabia’s allies, they could be deployed to Syria. Under these complicated circumstances, the visit to Iran by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and his meetings with officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran can be considered as a positive sign.

After the conclusion of Iran’s nuclear deal, aka the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA), Iran has been endowed with new capacities and many countries in the world have shown eagerness to take advantage of these capacities. However, for Iran to take advantage of the opportunity offered following the conclusion of JCPOA, it must be able to take good advantage of these capacities. Let’s not forget that big plans have been worked out for future progress of the country according to large-scale policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran. For example, the 20-Year Vision Plan of Iran has predicted the country’s outlook up to 2025, when Iran is supposed to be one of the biggest parties dealing with the World Bank. Now that the Turkish government has shown through this visit by Davutoglu that it is not willing to allow differences between the two countries to scuttle their strategic relations, Iran’s diplomatic apparatus must act in the same way that it acted throughout the course to the nuclear agreement and JCPOA. In doing so, Iran must try through dialogue and exchange of views aimed at bringing the two counties’ views closer together to expand the strategic relationship that exists between Tehran and Ankara without having to pass over the strategic goals and objectives of its foreign policy.

Key WordsIran, Turkey, Strategic Relations, Necessity, Mutual Dependence, Tension, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Syria Crisis, Kurdish Minority, Resistant Front, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA), 20-Year Vision Plan, Amir-Ahmadian

Source: Arman Daily
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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*Photo Credit: Turkey Ministry of Foreign Affairs