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Why Iran-Turkey tension won’t spiral out of control

Despite the increasing verbal confrontations between Iran and Turkey, tension between the neighbors is unlikely to spiral out of control.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif shake hands following a joint press conference at the Foreign Ministry in Ankara on August 12, 2016.  / AFP / ADEM ALTAN        (Photo credit should read ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Relations between Iran and Turkey have long displayed a sinusoidal cycle, with ups and downs. On Feb. 13, speaking at the International Peace Institute in Bahrain, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan added fuel to the fire of the regional conflict between Tehran and Ankara by saying, “There are those who are working to divide Iraq. There is a sectarian and ethnic struggle there because of the question of Persian nationalism. … We also have to prevent this in Syria and do what is necessary together with the Gulf [states], because we cannot just sit back — and will not sit back — in the face of oppression.”

A few days later, on Feb. 19, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at the Munich Security Conference, “Iran is trying to turn Syria and Iraq into two Shiite states,” adding, “This has to be stopped. Security and stability in the region can only be secured then.”

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