Will Turkish-Iranian relations turn from a coalition of common interests to a struggle for regional influence?!

By- Amro Selim (Chairman of Elmoustkbal for media and strategic studies)

The Arab region is considered a huge strategic treasure for the world superpowers, which consider it as a delicious piece of meat that should be seized and prevent other parties from merely thinking of approaching them. Before the Arab uprisings that began in 2011, this strategic spot was the object of US-Russian-British purposeful competition. To dominate and control its oil and mineral wealth, the region accounts for 62% of the world’s total oil reserves, in addition to its natural resources and navigation arteries linking the northern hemisphere to the south, but after a series of Arab uprisings. There has been a strategic shift in the course of the situations, and after the region was the subject of international competition, other regional parties entered to try to impose its control and influence on the countries of the region, the most prominent of which are Turkey and Iran, which are desperately trying to use the region as a lever to achieve their interests with the Western countries and find a foothold within them. Map of the influential superpowers in the world.

 Turkish project

Turkey is trying to enter the Arab region through a number of different doors, most notably the historical door by trying to revive the time of the Ottoman Empire, which is strongly illustrated in the drama issued to the Arab world of all kinds as well as portraying itself as an Islamic model at the same time follows the secular approach to thinking and fights Israeli control and defends the Islamic religion and the Arab holy sites, taking advantage of the Palestinian crisis and its successive developments, as well as its continued attempts to penetrate and extend influence within the Iraqi and Syrian territories, taking advantage of its participation in the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates The two countries do not forget that there is a joint Arab-Turkish desire not to establish a Kurdish state in northern Syria or Iraqi territory, which can cause more tensions and conflicts in the hot zone, namely that Turkey is trying to portray itself as a peacemaker and economic cooperation with Islamic history and modern European thought At the same time, the enlightened economic and political power capable of helping the Arab peoples to realize their dreams for a better future.

The Iranian Project

When we speak the word Iran, the first thing that accelerates our minds is the Shiite tide and the Iranian leadership’s attempt to play the role of the sole representative of the Shiites in the region and the protector and preserve that doctrine from the elimination by the surrounding countries .. The Iranian authorities are trying to communicate with the various Shiite parties in the Arab world, To establish a bridge of communication with it to be used as a pressure card against its countries and also as a point of negotiation if necessary, as well as support the Shiite regimes and movements that play political and military roles at the same time, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Shiite movements in race and the Houthi in Yemen as an attempt to control the regimes of these countries and extend their influence indirectly and use those parties as a means of negotiation with the United States as well as Western regimes.

Cooperation or competition!

Although the Turkish and Iranian projects differ in the way they reach their main purpose in the Arab region, they share the same goal of controlling and controlling the Arab countries for their national interests. We can clearly infer this through the Iraqi file, where both countries share that they want to prevent The re-emergence of the Iraqi state to prevent the emergence of any Iraqi regional influence again to enable them to continue to control the reins of power in the region and to guide the direction that takes into account their interests, as well as prevent the establishment of a Kurdish state will cause them internal crises and possibly risks to the authority of Erdogan and Rouhani, as well as No armed terrorist elements penetrate their territory through the Iraqi and Syrian borders, but at the same time they may differ in a number of other points, such as relations with the Israeli side. Turkey has strong relations and common interests with it, unlike Iran, as well as broad Turkish relations with the United States. NATO, unlike Iran’s strained relations with those parties.

Hot tensions

Although it seems to some that the Turkish-Iranian relations are in harmony and common harmony, but they have been strained at times. Bashar al-Assad was a key Turkish goal to control the Syrian file, which means breaking Iranian influence or at least reducing it in the region.This point was one of the hottest scenes of tension between the two sides in the past years after the Syrian revolution, but the desire of both parties to end the presence Kurdish villages From their borders, that tension was reduced, fearing that the West would use that card to create internal political tensions in Turkey and Iran.

We do not overlook the Turkish support for Iran after the imposition of international sanctions against it, as expressed by Turkish Foreign Minister “Mevlut Cavusoglu” when he said that “the proposal to buy oil from any country other than Iran is over the border.”

Vision for the future

Turkish-Iranian relations are expected to develop further if US and European pressure on Turkey, as well as Iran, become a common ally against foreign attempts to undermine their control of the region, which Turkish and Iranian leaders know will be exported into their countries in the form of crises hitting their forehead. However, the opposite may happen, and that cooperation will turn into a heated conflict if the superpowers try to give Turkey the green light, which is the closest political ally of the United States, NATO and Israel to lead the region during the next stage.


The Turkish-Iranian relationship has developed considerably after the Arab uprisings since 2011, and in some cases has come closer to reaching a joint alliance on a number of issues in the Arab region, most notably resistance to any attempts to establish a Kurdish state along the borders of the two countries, as well as incursions in various ways in neighboring countries such as Yemen. Iraq and Syria and trying to control regimes or support certain movements and groups that serves their strategic interests.

However, this cooperative relationship has not been without some attraction, and attempts to compete quietly and indirectly between them in order to emerge as the dominant and leader of the hot issues in that region, Turkey is trying to manipulate its regional control with the United States and Europe, especially when receiving Syrian immigrants and provide camps Iran is trying to ease the pressure on it and the US and international sanctions against it by pointing to its growing influence in Yemen, Iraq and Syria, which could be used. Meh, if imposed on it to ignite the region in multiple conflicts that threaten US and European interests, but … What is common between them here is the use of opposition groups and insurgents and internal conflicts in the countries of the region to tighten control over the reins of power in those countries, as well as to ensure the continuation of the conflict in the region to ensure their hegemony On the reins of things.


1المنطقة العربية بين المشروعين التركي والإيراني، الإمارات للدراسات والبحوث الاستراتيجية، 19 أغسطس 2008.


2 ناظم الجبوري، تعاون تنافسي: حقيقية الدور التركي ـ الإيراني في العراق، المنتدى العربي لتحليل السياسات الإيرانية، 30 يوليو 2018.


3- Stephen Larrabee and Alireza Nader, Turkish-Iranian Relations in a Changing Middle East, National defense research institute, RAND Corporation, 2013.


4- Firas Elias, Iran’s High Strategic Value for Turkey, The Washington Institute, July 17, 2019.


5- Prof. Dr. Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, After the “Middle East”: Turkey and Iran in a New Region, JETRO-IDE ME-Review Vol.6, Mrach 2019.


SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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