Erdogan Trip Harbinger of Tehran-Ankara Alignment

Erdogan Trip Harbinger of Tehran-Ankara Alignment

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Iran next month could give impetus to efforts by Tehran and Ankara to tackle regional issues, a lawmaker said.
In a recent talk with ICANA, Amir Khojasteh added that problems facing the Middle East can only be addressed through cooperation between regional countries, adding that Erdogan has now realized that Ankara need to align itself with Tehran as trans-regional powers cannot provide any help on such matters.
"Turkey has taken the West's measure, but in the end it realized that it had to align with Iran to solve its problems," he said.
Erdogan said he would visit Tehran for high-level meetings on Oct. 4 to discuss bilateral and regional issues.
Tehran and Ankara's stances have come closer in the last year after the two regional powers backed opposing sides in the Syria civil war, with Turkey backing the rebels trying to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iran supporting the government in Damascus. However, Ankara has softened its stance on Syria, where it, along with Iran and Russia, has initiated a peace process helping the warring sides in Syria to come to the negotiating table and provide badly-needed aid to the war-ravaged nation.

  Nagging Concern
Khojasteh pointed to the upcoming Iraqi Kurdistan's secession referendum, slated for Sept. 25, as the main concern for Turkey, saying Ankara, which has a sizable Kurdish population and faces Kurdish insurgency in parts of its territories, considers this as a national threat.
"The Turkish president now knows very well that Iran plays a crucial role in tackling this issue," he said.
Tehran and Ankara have stepped up military relations over the past few months with Chairman of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri meeting his Turkish counterpart as well as Erdogan in mid-September.
It was the first time a military chief from the Islamic Republic visited Turkey.
Media speculation has been rife that the two countries may even forge a military alliance fighting insurgencies in the region, though the two sides have not confirmed this issue.
Prior to Erdogan's trip, Turkish Chief of the General Staff Hulusi Akar will travel to Tehran to hold talks with Iranian officials.
Tehran and Ankara have also found each other on the same page supporting the tiny-but-wealthy Qatar after Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut their ties with the emirate, citing its warm relations with Tehran and accusing it of sponsoring terrorism—an instance of the pot of blockading countries calling the kettle black.


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