Wed 29 Nov 2023 12:32 pm - Jerusalem Time
Experts: Turkish and Iranian interests converge in addressing the conflict in Gaza
Turkey and Iran, the two regional powers in the Middle East, are trying to put aside their growing rivalry and seek to reach a common understanding to resolve the ongoing crisis in the Gaza Strip, according to what experts said.
Earlier, the Turkish presidency announced that Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi would not make a previously announced visit on Tuesday to the Turkish capital, Ankara, where Raisi and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan were expected to focus on seeking a joint response to the conflict erupting between Israel and Hamas. The reason has not been announced yet.
However, the two presidents held a telephone conversation on Sunday evening, following a telephone conversation that took place a day earlier between senior diplomats from the two countries.
During the conversation, Erdogan highlighted the importance of the "united position" of the Islamic world, especially from Turkey and Iran, against Israeli military operations in the Palestinian territories, the semi-official Anadolu Agency reported.
The pressing Gaza crisis has brought the two neighbors, which have maintained good trade relations, but are at loggerheads in many areas of the Middle East, closer together, analysts said.
In this context, Uytun Orhan, coordinator of Levant Studies at the Ankara Center for Middle East Strategic Studies, said, “The Gaza crisis has allowed the escalating tensions between Turkey and Iran to calm in pursuit of a common goal,” adding, “The conflict (in Gaza) has opened the way for the two countries to reach a common understanding.”
Sapar Askeroglu, an independent foreign policy analyst based in Ankara, agrees with Orhan's view.
Askaroglu told Xinhua News Agency, "Iran and Turkey share common interests regarding issues related to Palestine. Both countries are not satisfied with Israel's policies, and expressed their discomfort regarding the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza."
At the same time, the two countries also worry that the strong American presence in the Middle East harms their interests in the region, according to Orhan.
Given their shared opposition to the US-led regional and global order, the conflict in Gaza is likely to help bridge the gap between Turkey and Iran, according to analysts.
Tehran hopes that Turkey will be more on the front lines when it comes to addressing the Gaza crisis, according to Askaroglu.
He added, "Now, Iran is studying whether it can work jointly with Turkey, and believes that if the answer is yes, they can change the balance of power in the region."
Since the outbreak of the conflict between Israel and Hamas on October 7, Erdogan has taken a firm stance against Israel, describing the country as a "terrorist state." At the same time, Iran expressed its categorical condemnation of Israel.
On the other hand, Turkey, unlike its Western allies, does not consider Hamas a terrorist organization, while Iran is a strong supporter of the group that controls the Gaza Strip.
Orhan continued that, in general, the Iranians and Turks appear to have similar interests regarding the conflict in Gaza, but there are limitations to this emerging alliance.
He added, "Turkey is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and enjoys close relations with Western countries, while Iran has a long-standing hostility with the West. Therefore, their relationship may be getting closer with regard to Gaza, but their positions are different, and their regional competition is likely to continue."