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Why was Iran so quick to rally behind Erdogan?

While relations between Iran and Turkey have soured in recent years over differences primarily related to Syria, Tehran was quick to rally behind Erdogan as the Turkish president faced a coup.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference following the National Security Council and cabinet meetings at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RTSIXHJ

TEHRAN, Iran — Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was until recently a frequent critic of Iran’s policies in the region. These criticisms were not only numerous, but also expressed at different levels — and particularly after differences over Syria became more serious. But would a coup in Turkey have changed relations between the two countries?

There is no doubt that Turkey-Iran relations in the past few years — and especially with the coming to office of President Hassan Rouhani in 2013 and the return of Iran to the international stage — has not been as warm as in the recent past. This cooling down is rooted in differences of opinion over developments related to the Arab Spring. The increasing political gap appears to also have had economic repercussions. Indeed, in the past three years, bilateral trade has been mired in a significant downward trend: In the first 11 months of 2015, trade volume dropped almost 30% to $9 billion, compared to the year before.

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