Iran and Turkey in 2015

Friday, January 22, 2016

Behzad Khoshandam
Ph.D. in International Relations & Expert on International Issues

Iran and Turkey, as two important international and regional nation-states, have had serious effects on various political groupings, orientations and issues as well as within such international organizations as the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 2015.

The two countries’ foreign policy dynamism and actions toward each other and also in connection with other global groupings within the emerging world and regional orders have had remarkable impacts on regional security and strategic order and arrangements.

The two countries adopted serious positions and approaches in their foreign policy toward other global groupings and developments in the Middle East in 2015, as a result of which Iran's relations with Turkey in 2015 followed the existential logic of reaction to such issues as Westernalism, peripheralism, regionalism, and Eurasianism. On this basis, practical developments and solutions to international crises in Syria and Bahrain along with differences between the two sides on how to deal with Daesh have been the most important gravitational points in strategic views of this two important Middle Eastern power poles in 2015.

While Iran, in line with its foreign policy, was aiming to manage the Middle East in a systematic and security building manner in order to achieve its strategic goals on the basis of its regional role, on the opposite, Turks followed a globalist and westernalized approach to take advantage of transregional capacities, including the Western front and the NATO military alliance, to strike balance in the Middle East and the outcome of this policy was terrorist attacks at the center of Ankara in October 2015 and the recent bomb attack of Istanbul in January 2016.

By taking advantage of regional security environment, terrorism and refugee crises, and the all-out civil war in Syria in 2015, the Turks made major efforts to take concessions from such international institutions as G20, the European Union (EU), and NATO. Such prominent experts as Graham Fuller had offered accurate forecasts in this regard in early 2015.

In addition to Syria crisis, such issues as trade, business, tourism, oil and gas sales, cultural exchanges and regional cooperation were major topics on the agenda of Iran's relations with Turkey in 2015. For years, Turkey and Iran have been trying to promote their trade ties. Turkish authorities had officially announced in 2013 that the volume of trade between the two countries would hit USD 30 billion in 2015 and USD 100 in 2020.

An official visit to Iran by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in April 2015 was one step that Turkey took to achieve this goal. Of course, before Erdogan’s official trip to Tehran in 2015, he had supported Saudi Arabia’s operations in Yemen and, in biased remarks in an interview with France 24 in March 2015, slammed Iran's regional role in such crises as Yemen, Syria, Iraq and the fight against Daesh.

Despite this issue, Iran showed political and diplomatic self-restraint and by arranging an official welcome to Erdogan’s visit to Tehran in early 2015, tried to adjust Turkey’s Western-minded role in the equations and order building in the Middle East. The preliminaries, basics, content and results of this trip strongly proved the reality that since signing the Treaty of Qasr-e Shirin in 1639, Tehran and Ankara have shown rational and calculated sensitivities with regard to regulation of their relations up to the end of 2015.

After normalization of Iran's ties with the West following the achievement of Iran's nuclear deal on July 14, 2015, and with the beginning of removal of sanctions imposed on Iran, Turkish officials have mostly taken an economy-based approach to make the most of opportunities for cooperation with Iran. Although Turkey’s former president, Abdullah Gül, opined that Iran's nuclear deal was the biggest diplomatic achievement following the end of the Cold War, there are diverse positive and negative viewpoints in the Turkish society on Iran's approach to the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, the government in Syria, the central government in Iraq, future outlooks of Palestine and Syria, Shia groups in Iraq, Ansarullah movement in Yemen, Arab states, relations with the United States, proxy wars, as well as Iran's spheres of influence following the nuclear deal, its effect on Turkey’s accession to EU, and Turkey’s game in both Eastern and Western fronts.

The concurrence of terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s trip to Tehran on November 23, 2015, and downing of a Russian Sukhoi 24 bomber plane by Turkish jets on November 24, 2015, has been considered as one of the most important historical hallmarks in late 2015. While Putin’s visit was a profound move for more proximity between strategic views of Iran and Russia on future trends in the Middle East, increasing tensions between Ankara and Moscow and tensions with Iraq after entry of Turkish forces into northern part of Iraq in late 2015, caused Iran's regional role to become more prominent for both actors.

In short, the year 2015 was a high time for increasing and effective cooperation between Iran and Turkey in the field of foreign policy and in the direction of increased interaction and confrontation, as well as convergence and divergence with global groupings. Therefore, despite remarkable ups and down in Iran's relations with Turkey in 2015, the two countries avoided serious confrontation as a result of their past relations as well as identity-based, cultural, ethnic, economic and business interactions. The year 2015 was a time for continuation of strategic viewpoints of these two major power poles in the Middle East with regard to management of their peripheral environment. However, a difference in viewpoints still exists which is rooted in processes in the two countries’ foreign policy since about 100 years ago. Therefore, if the existing variables in foreign policy approaches of the two countries continue, on the basis of past records of Iran's relations with Turkey and in view of basic foundations in foreign policy of the two countries, continuation of the conflict in foreign policy approaches of these two powerful nation-states of the Middle East can be projected in a futurological manner in the coming years and with regard to forthcoming international and regional crises.

Key WordsIran, Turkey, 2015, UN, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Foreign Policy Dynamism, Middle East, Westernalism, Peripheralism, Regionalism, Eurasianism, Daesh, Syria, Terrorism, Refugee Crises, Iran's Nuclear Deal, Russia, Conflict, Khoshandam

More By Behzad Khoshandam:

*Iran and the Concert of Great Powers in 2015:

*Implementation of the Iran Deal and Its Regional Outcomes:

*Implementation of the Iran Deal and Its International Consequences:

*Photo Credit:

طراحی و توسعه آگاه‌سیستم