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Can Iran pull Turkey, Iraq away from brink of war?

Despite its tensions with Turkey, Tehran is well-positioned to bring Ankara and Baghdad closer amid their escalating war of words — but could Iran be successful in this endeavor?
Protesters tear up a picture of Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan in Basra, Iraq October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani - RTSS82L
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TEHRAN, Iran — “He insults me. You are not on the same level as me! You are not my equal! Scream all you want from Iraq! It will not change anything! We will do what we want to do.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan uttered these words Oct. 11 when addressing Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, in the latest round of verbal sparring between the two neighbors. Turkey, which once had “zero problems” with its neighbors, today has strained relations with every single one of them.

Having encountered numerous problems with former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Erdogan was supportive of Abadi's coming into office. Indeed, most observers were expecting that tensions between Iraq and Turkey would lessen when Maliki stepped down. However, it appears that Erdogan is determined to repeat the cycle of tension between Turkey and its neighbors as well as other regional actors. The state of Turkish relations with Syria, Armenia, Egypt, Russia, Iran and Iraq clearly demonstrates Ankara’s confused foreign policy on Erdogan’s watch.

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