Iran and Turkey are among the oldest rivals in the Middle East. This rivalry between the former Ottoman and Persian empires has calmed in recent decades, yet, with the spark of the Arab Spring, the two nations with opposing alliances revived their bitter race for influence and power in the region.
It was clear that the 1823 and 1847 Treaties of Erzurum still have an effect on today’s Turkey and Iran. Therefore, despite all the tension, blood and proxy collision, Ankara and Tehran remained resilient and have always looked for ways to reach compromises.
Political relations between the two preserved a level of warmth. Now that the wars in Iraq and Syria, from an Iranian point of view, are coming closer to an end, a common threat in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region is prompting both sides to put aside differences and unify efforts to prevent a domino effect that might harm their national security — namely the Kurdish dream of an independent state.
On Aug. 15, Iran’s Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri made a rare official visit to Turkey to meet his counterpart, Gen. Hulusi Akar, and senior Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to Bagheri, the visit was “necessary to exchange views and more cooperation on the military subjects and different regional issues, issues related to the two countries’ security, security of borders and fighting against terrorism.”
The Iranian and Turkish sides were keen to reflect the importance of the visit by talking to the media on several occasions, both during the visit and after, giving hints on what the talks were about — the referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, the situation in Syria’s Idlib province, both countries’ desire to combat terrorism — without missing Erdogan’s Aug. 21 revelation that his country and Iran are discussing a joint military campaign in northern Iraq against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK).