“Turkey which had dominated West Asia till the first World War has been showing renewed interest in the region after being repeatedly snubbed by Europe. Turkey under President Erdogan has become more and more Islamic in character and distinct from Europe. Erdogan’s AKP has its links of kinship with Muslim brotherhood and professes adherence to Islamic values.” said Ambassador Sanjay Singh, Former Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs he was giving a talk on ‘Iran and Turkey: Shared and Competing Interests in West Asia’ in New Delhi recently. The talk was organized by Ananta Centre.
He explained that just like Iran Turkey too has strained relations with Israel and tried to use the ‘Arab Spring’ for extending its influence “As per its adherence to Islamic credentials Turkey had supported the Gaza Flotilla in 2010 which led to the break of its relationship with Israel, it viewed the Arab Spring as an opportunity to spread its influence in the region by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood parties in Egypt, Libya though with limited success. Just like with Iran Assad has an extremely cordial relation with Erdogan promising him all the assistance in dealing with the Kurdish problem.”
Turkey according to him poses a challenge to Saudi influence just like Iran “Turkey is now present to some extent in Gulf in terms of military presence in Qatar which had been ostracized by Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.”
He said that Iran today is dependent on Turkey and Russia in Syria and may have overstretched itself in Syrian and Yemen wars especially in the wake of American sanctions.
Amb Singh explained that the Islamic Republic of Iran right from its inception faced so much hostility that it had to counter attack by way of spreading its influence around the neighboring region “The 1979 revolution made the US a permanent Enemy. Iran is surrounded on all sides by hostile powers in the West by the Kurds in the East by the Baluchis, in Southwest by Arabs in the north by Azeris. Iran began to increase its influence around the region for its own security; success came first with the formation of the Hezbollah in Lebanon and later alignment with Alevi regime of Syria. Relationship with Syria became deeper from 2011 onwards. Iran’s next step was to support the Hamas in Palestine, war in Iraq gave a new area to expand.”