Relations between Iran and Turkey; from threat and containment to cooperation

In the West Asian region, the number of countries that have democratic systems and real and free elections may not be much and when these elections are related to an active country in the regional arena like Turkey, its importance and analytical value are multiplied. On ۲۸ May ۲۰۲۳, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won the second round of the Turkish presidential election against his opponent, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
21 June 2023
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Mohammadmehdi Mazaheri

In the West Asian region, the number of countries that have democratic systems and real and free elections may not be much and when these elections are related to an active country in the regional arena like Turkey, its importance and analytical value are multiplied. On 28 May 2023, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won the second round of the Turkish presidential election against his opponent, Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Erdoğan has been in power in Turkey since 2003, first as the prime minister and then as the president since 2014. Now, his latest victory in the recent elections gives him the possibility of another five-year term for the presidency. This victory, along with the results of the parliamentary elections on May 14, which caused pro-Erdoğan parties to gain an acceptable majority in the legislative assembly of this country, has given Erdoğan a special position, and the consequences of this influential position will not be limited to Turkey's borders.

Since the Turkish presidential election did not change the status of power among the country's political elites and Erdoğan won again, it can be said that in the next 5 years we will see the continuation of Turkey's foreign policy in the West Asian region. Of course, this claim has a serious but and if, which is influenced by "Erdoğan's pragmatic and flexible political personality", which causes key and critical developments in Turkey's foreign policy under his leadership at certain times. In fact, whenever Erdoğan realizes that his policies are wrong, costly, or have little impact on Turkey's national interests, without the reservations and stubbornness that many politicians in the region have, he does not shy away from 180-degree changes in his government's foreign policy, and with a sudden turn changes and corrects the direction of his country's movement towards the desired goals; However, like many West Asian politicians, he does not believe in explaining these changes or apologizing for past mistakes.

Generally, however, it can be said that Erdoğan is expected to continue his previous policies in the West Asian region in the next 5 years, and therefore, the Islamic Republic of Iran must continue to deal with the same policies and approaches of Turkey. These policies include trying to strengthen Turkey's influence in the region, supporting Turkish-related groups in Syria, Libya and the Caucasus, continuing to play a role in the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis and relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as trying to improve relations with the Israeli regime. However, in addition to all these threatening policies, maintaining relations with Iran and Russia is also so crucial for the Turkish government, and this issue can open many knots and solve problems.

In international and regional relations, although consultation and dialogue is the solution to many competitions, conflicts and crises, as long as these dialogues do not lead to concrete benefits and benefits for the parties, they usually do not end in significant, effective results. Therefore, it seems that the way of successful interaction between Iran and Turkey under the leadership of Erdoğan in the new era is to create advantages and benefits that cannot be ignored in bilateral relations and show Iran's ability to cover the weaknesses and problems of this country in the regional and international arena.

Turkey is currently facing many challenges in the field of its foreign policy, the following are some of them:

  1. Relations with the West: Although Turkey is a member of NATO, its relations with the West have been tense due to issues such as human rights and democracy, as well as its approach to Greece and Cyprus, and this issue may continue in the future.
  2. Turkey is worried about its position in Syria; Since Russia has withdrawn a large number of its forces from Syria due to the war in Ukraine, Turkey interprets this issue as an increase in the influence and presence of Iran in Syria. Hence, to maintain its position in Syria and to prevent the expansion of Iran's influence in this country, it has tried to get closer to Israel.
  3. The Kurdistan issue: Turkey is against the Kurdistan movement and has targeted this movement in recent years with military attacks on Kurdish areas in Syria and Iraq.
  4. Economic problems: In recent years, Turkey has faced numerous economic challenges, including severe inflation and devaluation of its national currency. So it needs to cooperate with other countries to solve these challenges.
  5. Turkey's relations with the influential countries of the Arab world, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, have become cold and tense due to this country's regional policies and support for the Ekhvan al-Muslemin, and Erdoğan, in continuation of his recent policies, seeks to restore and improve these relations.
  6. Immigration issue: Due to the crises that occurred in the countries of the region, including Syria and Afghanistan, Turkey is facing the entry of illegal immigrants into its country, and to manage this issue, it needs to cooperate with other countries.

 

These are part of the issues and concerns of Turkey's foreign policy currently and in the coming years. The Islamic Republic of Iran can solve Turkey's concerns in many fields with active and innovative planning and policy-making and encourage this important and influential country towards cooperation and common interests instead of harmful and controlling policies. Cooperation and synergy in Syria, mutual cooperation to circumvent and neutralize Western sanctions against the two countries, cooperation in rational and effective confrontation with the Kurds in the region, and joint planning to deal with the crisis of illegal immigrants are some of the areas in which Iran and Turkey have common interests and working on them can bring the approaches of the two countries closer to each other and reduce the level of mutual threats and pressures of the two sides against each other.

 Muhammad Mahdi Mazaheri, Assistant Professor

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