One is a country with its roots going back to the Ottomans, which was once the abode of many ethnicities and faiths: The other is born from the legendary civilization of the Persians. These two long established nations have always interacted with each other historically due to their geography. It’s not hard to guess that these two countries are Turkey and Iran, the two great non-Arab nations situated in the Middle East.
Even though they have not always had consistently friendly relations with each other over the course of history, they share many commonalities in terms of culture. For example, when a Turkish person begins to learn Persian, they will shortly realize that many Turkish words are the same as Persian; the same applies to the Turkish language as one can encounter numerous Persian words.
When you visit the homes of people in Tehran, you will most likely see households watching Turkish satellite channels with great joy, even though they do not understand every word. The two peoples have a mutual interest with each other; they both feel they are connected and this draws them closer. We are all cognizant that what binds the two countries together is the sincere friendship and solidarity among their people at the grassroots level.
The Arab Spring, which has darkened the recent history of the Middle East with many bloody conflicts, started with an innocent hope of freedom in the Arab countries. A series of protests started after a Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire. Regrettably, the people did not get what they hoped for; these protests instead ignited a long-simmering fury against the governments of the region and turned this part of the world into a bloodbath.
In some parts of the region, things have cooled down but in Yemen, Iraq and Syria, conflicts are still continuing with an escalating pace.
Even though Turkey is not directly involved in these situations, it hoped to have better relations with its neighbors and sought to be a role model by trying to help develop democracy in the region. Hence, Turkey embraced a foreign policy known as “Zero problems with the neighbors”.
This, however, did not turn out to as Turkey desired and Turkey has issues with its neighbors in the region. During the period of conflict in so many different places, Turkey had to withdraw its ambassadors from Syria, Israel, Egypt, Iraq and Libya, leaving the country disengaged with many nations; all these incidents have made Turkey feel isolated.
In order to feel secure and to be filled with the hope of a peaceful future, with good relations with their neighbors, Turkey should take the necessary steps vis-a-vis diplomacy. Turkey is not the only country in the region that feels alone. Iran, on the other hand, possesses such a feeling of isolation due to the heavy sanctions imposed on them by the U.S. and the EU as well as being one of the very few non-Arab nations in the region.
Even though people were expecting the various conflicts would slow down with the coming of another year, that did not happen. Conflicts gave rise to other conflicts in the region, which has led to the emergence of proxy wars. When we examine the ongoing hot conflicts, it is not hard to see Iran’s rising power.
Many journalists have assessed this ascent as Iran replacing Turkey’s role in the region. However, in the Middle East, everything is not what Westerners might imagine. In the Muslim world, showing compassion and making sacrifices are more important than the self-interests of states.
Iran and Turkey can always be counted as two such examples even though some Westerners claim their respective foreign policies to be merely pragmatic. They are the two strongest and most deeply-rooted states and both are keenly aware that their relationship is essential and important for the stability and security of the region.
In spite of some disagreements both then and now, they have always treated each other with love, respect and in a brotherly manner. Even during the time of the War of Independence of Turkey in 1918-1920, the leaders of both states exchanged numerous messages of friendship.
Furthermore, Turkey did not partake in any of the economic sanctions imposed on Iran: Additionally, Turkey always wanted to be the negotiator between Iran and the West and was always on the side of our Iranian brothers to solve the problems in a peaceful manner.
For example, Turkey and Brazil brokered a fuel-swap deal with Iran and then Secretary of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoglu stated it was not necessary to inflict new sanctions on Iran. Regrettably, that deal was rejected by the Vienna group in June 2010. Nonetheless, Turkey never gave up and continued its endeavors to find a diplomatic solution and in January 2011, Iran and the P5+1 set at a negotiating table in Istanbul.
With the on- and- off negotiations over the years, Iran is about to sign a final deal in June 2015. It was certainly a tough journey, but Iran played its part quite well and thus gained the sympathy of the West and its own citizens. There is a new hope that the crippling sanctions will soon be lifted on this country and its people will be able to start a new life with new opportunities in the world.
Bringing peace is never easy. Bringing peace to the Middle East is even harder. It requires a great deal of sacrifice. Turkey and Iran are the key players in the region and even though third parties try to portray them as rivals, they are not: They are brothers. They are two strong and mature states carrying the burden of the conflicts in the region. They are both well-aware of their responsibility towards the poor and the needy. They believe they will grow together, and this alliance will play a role in solving the issues confronting not only the Islamic world but also in the international arena as well.
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