Turkey and Iran: the two modes of engagement in the Middle East
Keyman, Fuat and Sazak, Onur (2015) Turkey and Iran: the two modes of engagement in the Middle East. Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies (SI), 17 (3). pp. 321-336. ISSN 1944-8953 (Print) 1944-8961 (Online)
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19448953.2015.1063803
A series of breakthroughs in Iran's contentious affairs with the West necessitate a new way of thinking on Turkey-Iran relations. Hassan Rouhani's victory in the 2013 Iranian presidential elections and the signing of the interim Geneva nuclear agreement between Iran and the 'P5+1' shortly thereafter warrant an overhaul of the conventional policies concerning the Islamic Republic. Coupled with the Arab uprisings, recent developments will significantly impact not only the way Turkey and Iran approach each other but also their regional policies. This paper seeks to shed light on the two different modes of engagement that Turkey and Iran have employed vis-a-vis their approach to their shared neighbourhood. That is, while Turkey is positioned to utilize this breakthrough on a global scale to improve its relations with Iran and other countries through 'humanitarian diplomacy'; on the regional level, Tehran's hegemonic and interest-based ambitions will stoke the subtle rivalry with Ankara. This paper provides a background for the origins of these two different modes of engagement and discusses how they have influenced the dynamics in the region. After pointing out how the recent developments concerning Iran's nuclear programme and engagement in certain regional conflicts shape the Ankara-Tehran dialogue, it concludes with the implications of these competitive approaches for the greater Middle East.
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