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How Iran Lost Turkey’s Islamists

Mustafa Akyol explains the deterioration in Turkish-Iranian relations in the past three years, mostly as a result of differences over Syria.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (L), Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr (C) and Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi attend a news conference after a meeting regarding the Syrian crisis, in Cairo September 17, 2012. Saudi Arabia stayed away from a meeting on the Syria crisis convened by regional powers on Monday, setting back a forum grouping Iran - President Bashar al-Assad's main Middle East ally - and his leading opponents in the region. The "contact group" of Egypt, Iran, Turkey a

When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad visited Turkey in August 2008, he was warmly welcomed not only by the Turkish government but by groups of Turkish Islamists. Among the latter, many held a positive image of the Islamic Republic as a bold Muslim power that dares to defy the West and supports the Palestinian resistance. When the Ahmedinejad visited the historic Sultanahmed Mosque in Istanbul for his prayers, he was greeted by a sympathetic crowd chanting “Allahu Akbar” and “Mujahid Ahmedinejad.”

However, if Ahmedinejad or other top Iranian official were to visit Turkey these days, they wouldn't be likely to find another love fest. Iran's image has dramatically deteriorated in Turkey over the past two years — and not only among secular Turks, who always disliked the Islamic Republic, but also among Islamic Turks who accuse their eastern neighbor of hypocrisy.

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