A conflict of interests and differing regional stances are fueling a crisis between the Turkish and Iranian regimes. The two sides are now dealing with “the most violent” exchange of accusations since the war in Syria began, the Al-Khabar Press website reported.
Iran and Turkey back opposing actors in the Syrian civil war. Ankara calls for president Bashar al-Assad to step down and has been a main transit point for foreign fighters crossing into Syria to combat Syrian government forces. Meanwhile, Iran supports Assad both militarily and politically.
On Tuesday, Tehran accused its neighbor Turkey of prolonging the raging war in the Middle East. An Iranian official accused Ankara of supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Al-Arab newspaper reported (Arabic link).
This is the first Iranian accusation of its kind against Turkey, which had previously considered the Iranian regime as an important potential ally since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the 2003 elections in Turkey.
The Iranian public attack comes as a response to Erdogan’s accusation that Tehran is igniting a sectarian civil war in the Middle East. He criticized Iran’s involvement in Iraq and Syria, saying:
When we have bilateral meetings with Iran, they agree on solving this issue together. When it comes to action, unfortunately, they have their own way of working
These mutual accusations coincide with the height of the crisis in the region and the military strikes that the United States and its Arab allies are conducting against ISIS in eastern Iraq and northern Syria. Tehran has blamed the West for the rise of ISIS, while Turkey has largely kept silent on the issue while giving support to the terror group.
In recent months it had seemed that relations between Iran and Turkey were improving when the presidents of the two countries held a historic exchange of visits. Now, it seems once again that relations between the Sunni Turks and the Shiite Iranians are deteriorating.
[Photo: Truthout.org / flickr]