Turkey and iran relationship with neighbors

turkey and iran relationship with neighbors

PDF | This article examines Turkish- Iranian relations in the s, when the neighbors and to advance relations between Ankara and Tehran Additionally. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani talks to reporters at Mehrabad International Airport in Tehran before leaving for Turkey on December Bilateral economic relations between Turkey and Iran have grown at a rapid and viewed Iran and the Arab countries as unstable and hostile neighbors, AKP.

The basic principles included friendship, neutrality and nonaggression towards each other.

  • Is there really a Turkey-Iran rapprochement?
  • Iran–Turkey relations

The agreement also included possible joint actions to groups in the territories of both countries which would try to disturb peace and security or who would try to change the government of one of the countries. This policy was indirectly aimed at the internal problems both countries had with their Kurdish minorities. On 23 January the first definitive frontier treaty between Turkey and Iran was signed in Tehran.

The border between Turkey and Iran is one of the oldest in the world and has stayed more or less the same since the Battle of Chaldiran inand the Treaty of Zuhab. The treaty thus formalised a centuries-old status quo. On the same day, the countries signed a new Treaty of Friendship, as well as a Treaty of Conciliation, Judicial Settlement and Arbitration.

Several regions in Turkey were visited and attempts at close friendship and cooperation between the two leaders were made. Reza Shah Pahlavi was reportedly impressed by the republic's modernization reforms and he saw this as an example for his own country.

This treaty would become known as the Treaty of Saadabad. The purpose of this agreement was to ensure security and peace in the Middle East. A period of coldness passed after the Iranian Revolution which caused major changes in Iran and the Middle Eastern status quo. Today Iran and Turkey closely cooperate in a wide variety of fields that range from fighting terrorismdrug traffickingand promoting stability in Iraq and Central Asia. Turkey is the same distance from both of them.

Then we turn to the post-revolutionary period and the factors that produced economic cooperation from torivalry and conflict from toand rapprochement since The analysis shows that, although the long-term nature of Turkish-Iranian relations is one of rivalry, when certain factors emerge, the two neighbors can engage in close cooperation. The first is geopolitics. They both have been considered "gateways" to Central Asia and the Caucasus and have been major actors in the Middle East.

Iran's geography appeared to be an advantage in influencing both Muslim especially Shia and non-Muslim nations in Central Asia and the Caucasus and in controling oil-rich regions such as the Persian Gulf. Similarly, Turkey's eastern border connects it to historically important trade routes across Asia, and the country is strategically located around five major seas that are vital for trade and energy transportation: Iran became a playground for great-power politics during the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century, suffering from British-Russian rivalry in and around Central Asia and the Middle East.

Great-power politics of the period also weakened the Ottoman Empire's control over its territories. Therefore, geopolitics created a natural rivalry between Turkey and Iran for control of the Middle East and Central Asia.

Both countries are multi-ethnic in character and include similar ethnic groups, such as Azeris and Kurds. Iran's Azeris are estimated to constitute more than 25 percent of the population, while about 15 percent of the population of Turkey is Kurdish.

In Turkey, after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Kurds became the largest minority; they revolted against the central government at various times in the s, s and s.

Iran's minorities also include Kurds on the western border, as well as Arabs, Gilaki, Mazandarani, Baloch, Turkmen and some Christians. The Ottoman Empire claimed that Iran helped its Armenian population to revolt during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The third issue is the significant cultural divide between the two countries.

Each one championed the leadership of a major sect of Islam during the period of the Ottoman and Safavid empires. A competition for leadership of the Muslim world was one of the determining factors in their relations, generating a series of diplomatic competitions and military conflicts beginning in the sixteenth century.

During the nineteenth century, nationalism also was a major problem between the two countries. Pan-Turkism has always been a source of worry for Iran, due to the large number of Azeris and other Turkic peoples within the country.

For example, the Young Turk movement's pan-Turkism in the early twentieth century was a major source of confrontation between the two countries.

Similarly, when the Soviet Union dissolved during the s, Iran's policy makers feared separatist movements among the country's Azeri population. Each country has been suspicious of the others meddling with its minorities and promotion of its religion or nationality in the region.

Iran–Turkey relations - Wikipedia

Over the centuries, political and ideological rivalries have been related to the cultural divides between Iran and Turkey. From the sixteenth to the twentieth century, Shia Safavids and Qajars in Iran and Sunni Ottomans competed for the leadership of the Muslim world. Pan-Turkist movements in the early twentieth century were a nightmare for Iranians, while the Pan-Islamism of the Young Turks received mixed reactions among the Iranian elite. After constitutional revolutions in Iran and Turkeythe two countries took different paths in their regime choices.

While Iran pursued modernization under an authoritarian monarch, Turkey modernized its economy and social life and established a multi-party democracy after After the war, Turkey joined the Western alliance, and Iran maintained a balance between Western and Eastern blocs until the late s. During the s, Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi pursued a pro-American foreign policy, which came to an abrupt end with the Islamic Revolution.

Turkey's secular elite suspected the Iranian revolutionaries' aspirations to promote similar Islamist movements in the region. These were allegedly members of the Mujahedin-el-Khalq, a dissident group that opposed the mullah regime, as well as other pro-shah armed groups in Turkey.

Border problems have also been significant sources of confrontation. In reality, the two countries have engaged in armed conflicts many times sinceand there were some serious border problems. Turkey and Iran began the twentieth century with similar underdeveloped, pre-industrial economies and agrarian societies.

Under Shah Mohammed Reza's White Revolution, Iran achieved impressive economic reforms and high growth, fueled by the country's vast petroleum resources during the s and s. Iran was considered to be an economic success in the region. During the same period, Turkey maintained an import-substitution growth strategy, which seemed less successful. However, in the early s, Turkey initiated liberal reforms and pursued an export-oriented growth, which brought substantial economic expansion, especially in the s.

In the s, during the war with Iraq, Iran depended on imports from Turkey, paid for by oil. Since the mids, Turkey and Iran have signed a series of agreements on energy transportation from Iran to Turkey and other European markets. For example, superpower penetration into the region has changed the nature of the Turkish-Iranian rivalry.

Beginning in the early s, Britain and Russia were involved in the so-called Great Game for the control of Central Asia. This rivalry shaped the threat perception of Iranian policy makers. With imperial Britain and Russia in the region, the Ottoman Empire seemed a lesser threat to Iranians — and vice versa. They continued to undermine each other's sovereignty and play the superpowers against each other. The most serious crisis in the relationship was brought about by the Islamic Revolution inwhich completely changed Iran's priorities and alliances.

In its post-revolutionary foreign policy, Iran tried to influence Shia groups to spread the Islamic Revolution across the Middle East, engaged in a prolonged war with Iraq, and destroyed its former cordial relations with the United States and Israel.

turkey and iran relationship with neighbors

These developments, of course, diminished the importance of the "Turkish threat" for Iran. The new regime's threat perception of Turkey was diminished.

turkey and iran relationship with neighbors

Being one of the few major challengers to the only superpower was not easy. The United States not only challenged Iran on various issues in the region, it also supported Turkey and the "Turkish model" as a secular, modern Muslim country against the Islamic regime. Washington also maintained pressure on Iran and Iraq with the implementation of a policy of "dual containment.

Is there really a Turkey-Iran rapprochement? | Iran | Al Jazeera

First, war with Iraq and isolation by the West led Iran to pursue better relations with Turkey in the s on trade and other economic issues. During this period, Iran also supported non-state armed groups and terrorist organizations throughout the region and championed Islamism against Western governments, Israel and the secular-nationalist establishment in Middle Eastern states. At the regional level, an Iran-Syria alliance that began in the early s was balanced by Turkish-Israeli cooperation in military, security and economic matters in the s.

Turkey presented itself as a model in terms of democratization and liberal economy, while Iran promoted an image that combined religious and ideological factors, as well as some economic benefits. On the one hand, its staunch enemies, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, were both toppled by the United States. However, these changes also led Iranian policy makers to perceive the United States as an even greater threat.

This shift in Iran has redefined its relations with Turkey. In addition to the Sunni-Shia division, which was deemed particularly important by the mullahs, the foreign-policy orientation of the two countries also diverged completely.

The revolution led America to redefine its alliances in the region and maintain even closer relations with Turkey. Despite the changing character of the state and its foreign policy, as well as ideological and religious differences, when faced with political and economic isolation and a bitter war with Iraq, Iran reluctantly turned to Turkey for economic and strategic connections. The Iran-Iraq War, The first decade of Turkish-Iranian relations after the revolution was marked by the Iran-Iraq War and a willingness to cooperate in trade and economic relations.

In fact, the initiative that started the relationship with the Islamic regime came from Turkey. On February 14,only three days after the Islamic Revolution's "victory day," Turkey recognized the new regime almost instantly. The new Iranian government saluted Turkey's recognition and announced that leaving CENTO would not weaken relations between the two countries.

Turkey also realized that Iran's shift to an anti-Western posture would benefit Turkey in the long run. Turkey's first reaction to the Iranian Revolution was based on calculations about the regional rivalry between the two countries. However, Turkish policy makers have also been concerned about the weakened governmental structure in Iran, fearing instability. Only one year after the revolution, in Septemberthe Iran-Iraq War began.

turkey and iran relationship with neighbors

For Iran, the war with Iraq to its west and the American presence in the Gulf made economic cooperation with Turkey a vital issue. Iran needed to use Turkish ports in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean for strategic imports in its war effort. It bought goods from Turkey in return for oil and gas in the early s.

During the Iran-Iraq War, Turkey maintained a strict neutrality and improved its economic relations with both neighbors, especially Iran. However, when Turkey attempted to mediate the conflict, it did not succeed. Despite developments in trade relations, problems arose between Ankara and Tehran in the mids over PKK terrorism in Turkey and Iran's efforts to spread the Islamic Revolution in the region.

As PKK attacks increased, Turkey conducted raids in Northern Iraq to pursue militants, claiming its operations were only for "hot pursuit" in line with international law. Iran, as the self-proclaimed world leader of Islam, repeatedly protested the secularist policies and Kemalist establishment in Turkey, including the headscarf ban in Turkish universities. During this period, regional political changes were also significant.

Iran approached Syria, and an alliance between the two countries against the U. With Iran's assistance, Syria helped establish anti-Israel organizations in Lebanon, such as Hezbollah.

By making use of anti-Israeli sentiments in the region and the Iraq-Syria competition, Iran effectively broke its isolation and was able to pursue its foreign policy. On the other hand, systemic factors in this period favored Turkey.

The United States also asked Turkey for military bases and transferred its intelligence stations from Iran to Turkey. The Post-Soviet Space, Significant developments toward the end of the s changed the regional dynamics as well as the course of Iran-Turkey relations. First, inafter eight years of fierce fighting, the Iraq-Iran War ended in a status quo ante bellum, although both sides claim victory to this day.

In addition to the challenges caused by the Islamic Revolution, the constants of Turkey-Iran relations, in the form of cultural, political and ideological rivalries, rose to the surface. Turkey and Iran found themselves in competition for their influence over Central Asia and the South Caucasus. About a quarter of Iran's population are Azeris living in the north of the country, which is historically called southern Azerbaijan.

An independent state of Azerbaijan was perceived as a serious threat to Iran's territorial integrity. Moreover, Iran realized the importance of spreading its influence in the post-Soviet space, especially in the newly independent Muslim Turkic states of Central Asia. Turkey, as a NATO member and European Union aspirant, certainly found the new developments more beneficial for itself.

Uneasy Neighbors: Turkish-Iranian Relations Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution

Despite early fears that the end of the Cold War would diminish Turkey's strategic position in the region, Ankara quickly realized that there were new opportunities in the competition for influence. Turkey presented Central Asia with the so-called "Turkish model," emphasizing ethnic Turkic ties, secularism, integration into Western economic and political institutions, and increased trade and cultural ties.

Iran-Turkey relations

Turkey's success in the region was mixed. It did not appear to be the main influence in the regional rivalry; however, the pessimistic prediction that Turkey would become irrelevant and loose all ground to Russia and Iran did not come true, either.

The most important factor behind Turkey's success has been Western support for its increased role in Central Asia and the South Caucasus. A second major factor has been the U. The United States supported Turkey's political, economic and military influence in these two regions. For example, Washington vehemently opposed the transport of Caspian oil and gas through Iran, instead supporting projects that would go through Turkey, and prevented countries like Georgia and Armenia from developing stronger economic and political ties with Iran.

From the early s, Iran ceased the "small-Satan" rhetoric against Russia and developed closer ties with it against Turkey and the United States. Iran's approach to the Central Asian Turkic republics included promoting Islamic ideology, supporting Islamist movements and developing some economic relations through energy trade.

This shifted the focus of Turkey-Iran competition from south to north.

turkey and iran relationship with neighbors

The Gulf War of changed the dynamics in the region. After its invasion of Kuwait, Saddam Hussein's Iraq, one of the leading military powers in the region, controlled the world's second largest oil reserves.

Iran and Turkey approached this crisis differently. Iran, on the other hand, took a very pragmatic approach. Although some expected the Islamic Republic to support Iraq as an example of Muslim solidarity against the United States, Tehran preferred to stay neutral during a conflict that would weaken their greatest adversary in the region.

Such developments also strengthened the loose alliances between Iran and Syria and Turkey and Israel. Turkish-Israeli cooperation in military technology and intelligence, which was strongly supported by the United States, was repeatedly protested by Iran and Syria. By using the vacuum created by the United States and its allies north of the thirty-sixth parallel in Iraq, the PKK operated freely and conducted its largest attacks on Turkey.

Ankara attempted to end Iranian and Syrian support for the PKK through diplomatic efforts, but these did not prove effective. Against Turkish-Azeri cooperation on energy transportation, Iran used the PKK card to destabilize the region, particularly its oil pipelines. PKK fighters were able to freely cross the Iraqi, Iranian and Syrian borders, making it very difficult for the Turkish armed forces to pursue them.

Turkish incursions into northern Iraq, and occasionally Iranian territory, were condemned by the Iranian government. In Julythe activities of PKK guerrillas who crossed the Iranian border and attacked Turkish military posts led to a serious crisis between the two countries that could have turned into an armed conflict.

Exploiting concerns that an independent Kurdistan could cause Iraq to disintegrate, Turkey initiated three-party talks with Iran and Syria to observe the situation in Iraq. These meetings reassured the three countries of their joint interest in the territorial unity of Iraq.