Nuclear deal will pave the way for better Turkish-Iranian ties, experts say
by Fatih Şemsettin Işık
ISTANBULJul 14, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Fatih Şemsettin Işık
Jul 14, 2015 12:00 am
The nuclear deal struck between Iran and the P5+1 countries, which provides the U.N. the access to inspect Iranian military sites, will have a considerable impact on regional issues, along with relations between Turkey and Iran. Six major powers have reached an agreement to curb the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for economic sanctions relief. According to the deal, Iran will allow international inspectors access to its military sites, which it had repeatedly refused to give previously, stating that such access would be a violation of its sovereignty, as well as its state and military secrets. Iran has accepted a so-called "snapback" plan that will restore sanctions in 65 days if it violates the deal, and a U.N. arms embargo would remain in place for five years and U.N. missile sanctions would stay in place for eight years, the diplomats said on Tuesday.
A question occupying Turkey's agenda is how the deal will affect political relations between Turkey and Iran. Experts stated that one of the countries affected by these talks is Turkey, as a country that hosted previous talks twice in Istanbul in 2011 and 2012. In 2010, Turkey, as a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council at the time, tried to make an agreement between the P5+1 and Iran by teaming up with Brazil. The Tehran Declaration, which was signed for overcoming the deadlock later, was dismissed by the West, based on the view that the agreement was Iran's "fiddle" to remove the impending sanctions resolution. Turkey's top politicians and government officials welcomed the deal but did not avoid implying their concerns.Justice and Development Party (AK Party) leader and interim prime minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, issued remarks on yesterday's nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1. "I wish this deal could have been reached earlier and the threat of nuclear weapons could have ended. I think that there is a loss of time here. This deal is gratifying for us," he said. Implying that Israel also has nuclear weapons, Davutoğlu added: "No matter who has them, we are against weapons of mass destruction. Lessening tension in the region is significant."Stressing that Turkey is content with the nuclear deal as a development that would have a direct impact on the country, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu emphasized the removal of sanctions on Tehran would positively affect the regional economy. Indicating that Iran must reconsider its policies in Syria and Iraq, he also urged Iran to give up the pursuit of sectarian policies. The Foreign Ministry also issued an official statement that said: "Full implementation of the nuclear deal that was reached with Iran is of vital importance for the region's security, stability and peace." Congratulating both sides for attaining such a deal, the statement added: "Turkey, which regards diplomatic solutions as the only option regarding the problem of Iran's nuclear program, has welcomed the consequence of long-standing negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran within the ‘comprehensive common act plan' agreement in compromise."
Adnan Tabatabai, an Iranian political analyst from the Berlin-based think-tank Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO), underlines that Iran will be perceived as "a much better integrated, self-confident and strong partner for Turkey now" within the potential of being fostered on better economic, cultural and political grounds. He also pointed out the likely cooperation between the two countries in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). "Regionally, I think Turkey will have to more realistically assess the threat of ISIS and seek cooperation with Iran to effectively counter their advance. There is no choice but a comprehensive strategy against this regional and global threat. Most certainly, Iran and Turkey need to coordinate efforts to contain and eventually defeat ISIS," he said. Yet, it is a fact that Turkey and Iran have been in dispute over their totally different policies towards Syria.
Touching on the policy differences, Bayram Sinkaya, assistant professor at Yıldırım Beyazıt University, thinks that one of the countries having a seat at the table in the region such as Turkey would have been much more meaningful for regional peace, but also pointed out that this deal is not the result of "regional peace talks," rather it is about the nuclear program of Iran. "I foresee three impacts of the deal on Turkish-Iranian relations. First, the removal of the sanctions would inevitably cause a leap in economic ties. Secondly, Turkey will throw off being stuck between its ally the U.S. and its neighbor Iran. Worries will be removed and much more space for politics will be created," he said and lastly added: "In terms of the countries in the region, faith for diplomacy with this success of Rouhani and Zarif, will definitely increase. As a matter of fact, Iranian foreign policy has a compatible feature with Turkish foreign policy in a region where regional peace is considered important and based upon mutual economic interests."
Turkey and Iran have been pursuing contradictory policies in the region. Turkey has been accusing Iran of fueling sectarian hatred in the region, while Iran claims that Turkey directly helps the Syrian opposition. The dispute is not only about the war in Syria but also about the conflicts in Iraq and Yemen. Turkey has voiced its concerns over the presence of Iranian commanders in Iraq leading the Iraqi security forces as well as of the Iranian-backed Shiite militias, which have frequently been accused by the U.S., rights groups, and Sunni groups of targeting innocent Sunnis. Turkey says that following battles, Iranian-backed Shiite militias replace ISIS militants in Sunni-dominated Iraqi cities. Another dispute is over the coup by the Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen. Turkey explicitly pledged its support to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition that hits Houthi targets and aims to restore the internationally recognized and elected government.