We need to reconsider Middle East from different angles over the recent developments in Iraq and Syria.
After the coup attempt on July 15th, the AKP government, which turned against the Western Bloc as well as the US, tried to develop close relations with Iran within the context of the policy of developing good relations with the neighbors. However, the bilateral relations between the two country were strained again after Ankara demanded to participate in the Mosul operation.
The first sign of this tension was seen when the Iraqi and Iranian Energy Ministers decided not to participate in the Energy Summit organized in Istanbul on October 10th, just a few days after the Mosul problem was emerged.
Tension with Tehran
Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vaguely criticized Turkey’s demand to participate in the Mosul operation and said, “We regard as very dangerous [acts of] intervention by foreign countries without any coordination with the host country...”
Right after this comment, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Bahram Qassemi pointed out that they're against Turkey’s intervention in Mosul and said “adopting approaches that defy the political authority of a county’s central government is not acceptable.”
Likewise, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanese Hezbollah, which is one of the most important allies of Iran in the region, responded sharply to President Erdoğan’s comments on Mosul and said “After all the Iraqis fighting for Mosul, Turkey comes and says Mosul is Turkish and must go back to Turkey.”
If the allegations that the Turkey backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) killed the first assistant of Qassem Souleymani, one of the most important commanders of Iran are true that might surely increase the tension between Ankara and Tehran even more.
Our wish, of course, is that there are no such tensions with any of our neighbors, especially Iran and that the good relations are sustained. However, it is clear that we cannot accomplish anything by ignoring and neglecting the current developments.
Back to the main subject; for Iran, which doesn’t want to base its regional activities on a sectarian basis; developing good relations with Turkey is of utmost importance for its policies in the region. There are a lot of signs showing that it tries to balance the relations with Turkey ruined after Mosul.
Under Russia's umbrella
If we consider the steps by order-;
Egypt's first signal of approaching to Russia/Iran/Syria front was given with the approval of a draft decree on the ceasefire and humanitarian aid issues in Aleppo which was presented to the United Nations Security Council by Russia.
Immediately after that, Syrian National Security Office Chairman Ali Mamlouk left for Cairo on October 16th, 2016 for an official visit.
Egyptian official news agency reported that after the contacts between Mamlouk and the head of Egyptian Intelligence, Khaled Fawzi, Cairo and Damascus reached an agreement on 'political cooperation and empowerment of cooperation on the basis of fighting against terrorism'.
The regional enemy of the Iran/Syria front and at the same time, Egypt's economic ally Saudi Arabia reacted severely to this development.
Saudi envoy to the UN Abdullah al-Muallimi described Egypt’s support to the Russian proposal 'painful' and Saudi Arabia’s National Oil Company, ARAMCO also issued a written declaration stating that they have 'suspended their oil aid programme with Egypt'.
At the same time, the Guardian published the e-mails between Iranian FM, Javad Zarif and his US counterpart John Kerry, over the talks on Syria carried out in Lausanne. Surprisingly, the e-mails contained the information that Iranian FM Zarif has favored the participation of Egypt in the Syria talks.
If we consider that the relations between Cairo and Tehran have been very bad since the Cairo government granted an asylum to Shah Mohammed after the Iranian Revolution in 1979; the importance of the recent developments could be understood in a better way.
It is clear that the cooperation against the Islamist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood has always been in a determining position in relations between Egypt and Syria, which are rebuilt over Syria issue.
It is also clear that it will be beneficial to closely follow the changing balances in the Middle East at various levels, especially nowadays when we are looking for ways of cooperation with the countries in the region.
If we continue to approach events from a fixed point of view and if we don’t change our perspective, it seems that this might be harmful for our country’s interests.