A handout picture provided by the Iranian Presidency shows Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (R) shaking hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a welcome ceremony in Tehran on October 4, 2017. (AFP PHOTO)
by Hassan Rouhvand
TEHRAN, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- Iran and Turkey have now chosen to converge in the face of common challenges they experience in the region, an Iranian political expert said on Wednesday.
Fluctuations in political ties pertaining to certain regional issues, particularly those of the Syrian conflicts, over the past five years, seem to have given way to closer and "brotherly" ties of Tehran and Ankara under the pretext of new developments in their brothers with Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region.
On Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Tehran seeking to mend ties in line with the attempts began last month when the Chief of Staff of Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri made a visit to Ankara and responded by his counterpart on Monday.
Jafar Haqpanah, the political expert of the regional issues, responds cautiously to Iran and Turkey's closer relations at this juncture, saying that dissimilar interests are behind this alliance.
WHY CONVERGENCE AT THIS JUNCTURE?
In essence, Iran and Turkey's opposition to the Kurds' independence referendum in Iraq is different, Jafar Haqpanah told IRAN daily on Wednesday.
"While Iran has fears of a foothold for Israel near its borders, Turkey is worried about the restive situation of the Kurd populated areas within its territory," Haqpanah said.
The Iranian expert suggested that this tendency to connect at this particular instance is subject to change under unpredictable conditions in the region.
Although the recent developments have brought two neighbors together, Turkey has shown that it follows pragmatic policies when its economic and national interests are at stake.
As Turkey's foreign minister said in his latest trip to Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdish region, despite all Ankara's political pressures against the region, his country might maintain its economic ties with the Kurds.
On the other hand, Iran's relations with the United States and its stance against Israel will not allow Tehran to, strategically, accept the formation of a state near its borders which is supported by Israel and is potentially a security threat, Haqpanah said, arguing that Iran's opposing position to the Kurds' move is "much stronger".
Iran and Turkey have also shown that they are sensitive about the security issues which might threaten both countries.
Iran supported Ankara against July 2016 coup in Turkey. Besides, Ankara was not totally loyal to crippling western sanctions against Tehran during 2009-2013.
Also, the successful cooperation of Tehran, Moscow and Ankara over resolving the Syrian crisis, and the coordinated measures of Iran and Turkey to support Iraq are the causes for the elevated relations between the two neighbors at the regional and international levels.
Despite the struggles for influence geo-politically in the region, both countries have been cautious not to drive the differences to the level of crisis politically and economically, Haqpanah said.
The recent convergence between Tehran and Ankara and Iraq forms another tripartite alliance in the region and the reason is to counter common security threats, he said.
In the past months, the top military officials of the three countries held separate meetings and this is "an embodiment of publicizing serious military cooperation" in the face of common challenges, he added.
Above all, "there is a principle of mutual need between Tehran and Ankara," he said, adding that, despite all the rivalries for regional influence, the history of both countries are intertwined politically, economically and culturally.
"Iran and Turkey are cognizant that they are the eternal neighbors," he concluded.