Turkish - Iranian Rivalry on the Rise / Prof. Daniel Pipes

Aug 7, 2011
Turkey and Iran are two of the largest, most central, advanced, and influential countries of the Middle East; and their governments have a history of rivalry going back to Ottoman-Safavid times and as recent as the 1990s. The past decade, however, has been a time of good relations as both countries experiment with Islamism.

I see, however, that tensions between these two regional heavyweights are increasing and predict they will continue to do so, with who-knows-what endpoint. This weblog entry notes in reverse chronological order some of the more interesting developments in their relationship.


Hezbollah: Süddeutsche Zeitung on April 30 quoted Western diplomats saying that Turkish authorities stopped a truck containing a large weapons shipment intended for Hezbollah at Kilis, near Turkey's border with Syria. (August 4, 2011)

Syria: On March 31, Ankara informed the U.N. Security Council about seizing a weapons shipment, listed as "auto spare parts," that Iranians were trying to export on a Syria-bound plane.

More broadly, the ex-CIA spy who goes by Reza Khalili notes how differently the two regimes have responded to the Syrian uprising against Bashar al-Assad: "the ongoing protests in Syria have the Iranian leadership worried. The survival of the Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad, is essential to the dictatorial Islamic regime in Tehran because Syria provides the very gateway to Iran's expansion of power in the Middle East and its extremist policies against Israel and the United States." In contrast, "Neighboring Turkey has denounced the Syrian slaughter. Thousands of fearful residents from the northern regions of Syria have taken refuge in Turkey."

Khalili reports that

A recent article published in the weekly magazine Sobh'eh Sadegh, one of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' media outlets, sternly warned Turkey against its stance on Syria, emphasizing that Iran stands squarely with the Assad regime. The article, entitled "Iran's Serious Stance in the Face of Syrian Events," warned that "Should Turkish officials insist on their contradictory behavior and if they continue on their present path, serious issues are sure to follow. We will be put in the position of having to choose between Turkey and Syria. Syria's justification in defending herself along with mirroring ideological perceptions would sway Iran toward choosing Syria."



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