Turkey and Iran: Friends or Rivals?

Turkey’s recent cozying up to Iran have made many in the West nervous. The article below argues that all is not what it seems, that Turkey and Iran also are major competitors for power and influence in the region. The authors take a close look at Turkish and Iranian moves (and rivalry) in each country in the region. They end with some foreign policy recommendations: The Turkish-Iranian axis is limited and may be temporary. Turkey remains a partner with the West. Turkey’s growing influence on regional players can serve to promote US interests in the region while adding legitimacy to what otherwise would be seen as outside interference. (click here)

An excerpt:

The continuing rise of Turkey and Iran at the expense of the Arab states is troubling to the West. This is particularly the case because the parallel rise to power has been expressed in a warming of relations between these two states—a sharp contrast to the mutual suspicion that characterized the bilateral relationship in the past. These trends have also been interpreted in the West as a turn eastward in Turkish foreign policy, and Turkey is no longer seen as the dependable ally it used to be during the Cold War.

The current thawing of the relations between Turkey and Iran has been articulated in different ways. In public statements, the Turks and the Iranians have stressed the longstanding peaceful nature of their shared border… Indeed, neither state has any territorial claim against the other. Trade relations have been greatly expanded, leading the two states to consider signing a free-trade agreement. Finally, Iran has allowed Turkish mediation on the nuclear issue and is cooperating, more than ever, in their fight against the Kurdish separatists.

However, despite the present cooperation, there remains great potential for dispute between Iran and Turkey, and there exists the possibility of long-term competition for regional dominance developing. Over time, certainly if Iran acquires a nuclear weapon capability, Ankara is less likely to strengthen its cooperation with Tehran and existing differences between the two countries will rise to the surface. In fact, the basic interests of Ankara and Tehran—in some if not most issues—collide, which could lead to disagreements, and in the long run even conflict, between these two non-Arab powers in the Middle East…

15 Responses to “Turkey and Iran: Friends or Rivals?”

  1. “Friends or Rivals?”
    How many years of education does it take to learn that the opposite of ‘friend’ isn’t ‘rival’ but ‘enemy’; and that people(s) can be friends and rivals at the same time.

  2. Iran and Turkey were and are friendly rivals.

  3. The USA doesnt Iran see as a real threat. The EU neither. As they get their info daily by thousands of Iranian refugees who all have their own ‘communication’ set ups with Iran.
    Iranian refugees in France, Italy, the Netherlands, the UK etc.give some detailed information (most often under fake names because their families still lives their) to the resp. governments.
    Its now more how crazy they get there: A. supports that he’s in direct contact with the new Macdi and Khameiny who said that he was chosen by allah himself. As a friend and EU parliament today wrote in TFQ: they are going to unplug Iran from the earth. And still some idiots here think that Iranians are your friends. As one thing became clear: Iranian refugees (ca 5 million) consider Erdogan as the beast (Baal) the Sorpent in Persian traditions, who has to be defeated. But A. creates still fear over the ordinary people in Iran:A and Erodgan, the savior of ignorance in Turkey. Exactly why many Iranians point to Turkey: Turks are for sale….for every price (I witnessed it in Dubai, Egypt, and Syria) You AKP fans…dreams on

  4. Turkish-Iranian cooperation seems healthy to me. Those aspiring for freedom in Iran have much to gain from Turkish influence seeping into the country. I wish something similar were happening between the US and Cuba.

  5. Yeah, just as you might think Iran stands to learn a lot from Turkey, you see they already know better: Filters for Halal Internet.

  6. Originally published here on the WSJ. Now read Turkish public’s response on Haberturk. The latest comment is

    aynı uygulama türkiye de de olmalı. gençlerimiz kötü siteler yüzünden zehirleniyorlar. yasak olunca mecburen ehli sünnet sitelere girecekler. dini bütün gençler olma yolunda ilerleyecekler. akp sayesinde olacak inşallah destekliyorum.

    Two comments down:

    helal olsun. adamlar uçtu gitti kendi işletim sistemlerini bile çıkaracaklar. cumhuriyet mumhuriyet hikaye işte gelişim çağdaş uygarlık budur kardeşim. bakınız iran bakınız çin.

  7. Nihat and Emre are you roommates using the same computer at the same time?

  8. No, but Bulent and I sometimes pretend to be Mehmet.

    Mark my words: This Nation will one day have its own Intranet, free from the infidels’ impurities!

    (I was aware of that article before Nihat posted it.)

  9. Emre yes, it just doesn’t make sense for books to be investigated when the ‘net is free. Only AKP-haters[1] would suggest that neither should be controlled, so naturally both will be, as they should, and we’ll all be safe. The net is very dangerous anyway, porn may pop up all of a sudden and we may all die from, um, exposure. People are very worried on twitter too: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23birandaporno
    [1] The PM is now going all the way and and talking about atheists too: http://www.focushaber.com/videogaleri/basbakan-chp-lileri-ateist-ilan-etti–v-4259

  10. “nihat” it is your turn.

  11. What’s this, a football match?

  12. BTW, let me jump into this match. Is this the same emre I see on HDN website?

  13. Islamist newspaper Vakit sums up the AKP mentality. One headline is about AKP’s reaction to porn, meaning internet. The other headline is how prayer and Kuran protects the youth and how the admiration of west corrupts the morals.

  14. Emre, there is a chance that sarcasm was intended by those comments. Here is one from Radikal:
    “İran için hayaldi, gerçek oldu.. Darısı Türkiye’nin başına, acilen şu internet denen gavur icadı şeytan işinin fişini çekmek lazım..”

  15. An interesting panel discussion about the Internet and freedom of speech. It’s from November 2008, but still quite current. Click to watch (82 minutes)

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment