Amid tensions with Syria, relations between Turkey and Iran have
significantly deteriorated, after the two countries exchanged threatening
declarations last week-
The war in Syria has caused relations between Turkey and Iran to significantly
deteriorate, after the two countries exchanged threatening declarations last
week. Turkey blames Iran for allowing PKK militants to operate in its territory
against Turkish targets, specifically out of Shahidan camp on the border of Iran
and Turkey. The camp was closed after Turkey and Iran agreed to fight Kurdish
terrorism. Now, Turkey claims that Iran is trying to open up another front
against it. In response, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, said
“Turkey will do everything necessary against the Iranian threat.” Such words
have not been heard from Ankara since the rise of the Justice and Development
Two days earlier, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi arrived in Ankara
in order to ask Turkey to act to release the Iranian hostages in Syria.
According to the Free Syria Army, the captives were advisers from Iran’s
Revolutionary Guard, while Iran claims that they were tourists. On the same day,
Turkey was astonished to hear that Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces
Hassan Firuzabadi was threatening Turkey, warning the country that if it
continues with its current policy toward Syria, the violence will make its way
into its territory. Salehi was quick to clarify that only he or President
Ahmadinejad were authorized to speak in the name of Iran, although this did not
do much to assuage Turkey, especially after Iran announced this it was delaying
the entry arrangements of Turkish citizens into the country, and that during the
month of August, they will not be granted entry into Iran without a visa, for
the first time since 1964. Iran was also quick to attack Erdogan for his
declarations against the Alawite minority in Turkey (it is important not to
confuse the Alawites in Turkey and those in Syria – both have their origins in
Shia Islam, but are still considered separate sects).
Erdogan, who is Sunni, said in an interview with Turkish television that the Alawite houses of worship in Turkey are “cultural centers” rather than mosques. He blamed the Turkish Alawites for supporting his political rival and opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu because he is Alawite, and hinted that the Alawite sect is not exactly a part of Islam.
Erdogan’s words angered the Alawite leaders in Turkey and they are being used by Iran in order to give the political rivalry a religious tinge. Iran also decided to not allow Iranian researchers to take part on a conference by the International Society for Iranian Studies (ISIS) which took place last week in Istanbul.
The recent events are seen by Turkey as an unprecedented low in relations between the two countries, which stems not only from the crisis in Syria, but also from the competition for influence on Iraq and from Iran’s attempts to destabilize Turkey’s relationship with the Kurds. This situation may bring about new regional coalitions, especially the building of a Saudi-Turkey axis, with
Egyptian cooperation. Despite this, one cannot ignore the widespread trade ties between Turkey and Iran, which greatly benefit both countries.
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