Skip to main content

Is Iran-Turkey rapprochement sustainable?

As Turkey and Iran's interests align their cooperation is expanding, but their newfound friendship won't last unless their potential for rivalry is curtailed.

At a time when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is getting the cold shoulder from most Arab states and Iran is crushed under the US administration's tightening sanctions, we might expect a strong embrace between these two non-Arab countries. And glancing over the headlines, it seems like Ankara and Tehran are on the way to being best friends, courtesy of Russia. The regional common denominators provide crucial ample opportunities for cooperation. Expanding bilateral relations on tourism, regional security and cultural exchanges could benefit both countries. 

Yet, there are many challenges behind the smiles of Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who meet regularly as part of trilateral Astana summits. We rarely hear about sustainability of Iranian-Turkish rapprochement in the media. The relations between the two are anything but stable. For example, Erdogan has changed sides on the Yemen conflict completely. In 2015, he had even proposed extending logistical support to the Saudi-led coalition, whereas on Sept. 18 he was arguing Saudi responsibility in the Yemen conflict as a reason for the attack on its oil fields.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.