Common Interests Spur Closer Tehran-Ankara Security Coop.

Common Interests Spur Closer Tehran-Ankara Security Coop.Common Interests Spur Closer Tehran-Ankara Security Coop.

Recent developments in the region have prompted both Iran and Turkey to increase security cooperation.

This was stated by Bilgehan Alagoz, a political analyst with the Istanbul-based Marmara University, in an interview with Sputnik. He discussed last week's visit of Major General Mohammad Baqeri, chairman of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, to Ankara where he met high-ranking Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli.

"In terms of security, relations between Ankara and Tehran have a long history, but over the last six years they have seen a number of crises. The reason is the differences between their positions over the Syrian problem. And this is the first reason behind such a high-profile visit," Alagoz said.

"Turkey's security cooperation with Iran has been limited due to the fact that Ankara is a NATO member, but recent developments in the region have prompted both countries to increase security cooperation."

This was the first time since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution that an Iranian military chief visited Turkey, which signals an increase in cooperation between Ankara and Tehran.

Baqeri was quoted as saying that "regional developments and security issues" were the reasons for the visit, according to Iran's state television.

The media also reported that the main issues on the agenda at the Ankara talks were the situation in Syria, the Kurdish issues and border security.

  Concerns Over Kurdish Activities

Commenting on border security issues between Turkey and Iran, the analyst pointed out that the main factor is the activities of Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and its affiliates.

"The Kurdestan Free Life Party, an anti-government offshoot of PKK in Iran, has long been a major security concern for Tehran. The situation in Iraq and Syria resulted in increased Kurdish activities along the Turkish-Iranian border. This may be the main factor behind Turkey and Ankara increasing military cooperation," Alagoz said.

Earlier this month, Ankara started the construction of a massive wall along the border with Iran.

Commenting on the initiative, the expert said the wall is aimed at protecting the Turkish-Iranian border against the Kurdish threat.

"Ankara and Tehran also want to develop trade ties, but Kurdish activities along the border remain a problem, including attacks and provocations. Turkey and Iran expect this wall to improve the situation. I think despite the fact that there have been no statements from the Iranian government, it is rather positive about this measure," the expert said.

Alagoz suggested that Ankara and Tehran will probably try to work out a common strategy to deal with the Kurdish problem.

"Baqeri was appointed a year ago. It was reported that his priority would be countering groups and organizations threatening Iran's national interests. Since his appointment, Tehran and Ankara have made progress in security cooperation. I guess that both countries will prioritize the development of a common policy on Kurdish groups operating in border areas," the expert concluded.


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