by Debbie Smith
“The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” an ancient proverb, advocates that two parties can and should work together against a common enemy.
It seems that Turkey and Iran may be uniting against a mutual foe, Saudi Arabia, according to Middle East expert Walid Shoebat.
The two countries have had their differences, going back to the period of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, when Iran was known as Persia.
In the 20th century, Turkey became a republic and oriented itself more toward the West, especially during the Cold War period.
Turkey opposed the 1979 Iranian revolution elevated Ayatollah Khomeini as the Supreme Leader, the highest ranking political and religious leader in Iran.
Turkish officials believed Iran was sponsoring terrorist groups in Turkey with the intention of spreading Shi’a Islam, explains WND’s F. Michael Maloof.
In turn, the ultra conservative, post revolutionary government of Iran viewed Turkey and its, NATO, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, membership as a threat.
The relationship between the two nations began improving during the Iran-Iraq war since Turkey viewed Iraq, under Sadam Hussein, as a greater threat than Iran.
Increased cooperation between the rivals followed the Gulf War, particularly on the Kurdish issue which affected both nations.
With the election of Tayyip Erdogan as Turkey’s Prime Minister in 2002, relations improved as the government appeared to become more Islamic under Erdogan.
Since then, the two have increased trade, particularly with Turkey purchasing oil and natural gas from Iran, while Western nations imposed trade sanctions to deter Iran’s nuclear pursuit.
The Syrian Civil War, a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, furthered strengthened the burgeoning friendship between Turkey and Iran.
How does Turkey plan to benefit from the alliance?
Turkey intends to spread its more moderate form of Sunni Islam as opposed to the more conservative Sunni Wahhabi version of Islam from Saudi Arabia.
Syrian President Bashar Assad, backed by Iran and the Shiite branch of Islam, will likely stay in power in the country.
This defeat of the opposition, backed by Saudi Arabia, will further erode the waning power of Saudi Arabia in the region.
Although Turkey disagrees with Iran’s support of the Shi’ite Alawite regime of Assad, the government in Ankara seems willing to put their opposition aside in pursuit of improved relations with Tehran.
Turkey and Iran, despite their divergence over Syria, are helping each other build and in some cases rebuild their influence in the region in the wake what appears to be the crumbling influence of Saudi Arabia among its Arab allies.
The leaderships of both nations have come to realize that striving to secure an undisputed leadership in the Middle East was pointless, “states Walid Shoebat, “Iran’s ambitions in the region will then succumb to Turkish dominance.”
Shoebat said the Saudi kingdom has been the catalyst for the two countries to work more closely together despite their own Sunni-Shi’ite divisions.
Some regional experts, including Shoebat, even believe that the increasingly Islamic Turkish government envisions a recreated Ottoman Empire, which would become the center of a more moderate Muslim Caliphate in the Arab world.
Iran on the other hand, seeks improved relations with Western nations, something they think Turkey can help them with.
Iranian Parliament Vice Speaker Mohammad Hasssan Aboutorabi-Fard recently met with Turkish Ambassador Umit Yardim and underscored that developing ties with Turkey was Iran’s “top priority.”
“The development and expansion of close friendly relations with Turkey in different arenas is among the priorities of the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy, and we hope that the trend of growth in bilateral ties, especially in the parliamentary and economic fields, will be further accelerated,” the Iranian Parliament’s Vice Speaker said.
“The relationship (between Ankara and Tehran) seems to be facing a new stage full of interests,” said Middle East expert Khorshid Dali, a Syrian. “Each party has its ambitions that motivate it to look for a common axis that will change regional equations at the expense of the Arab countries, especially in the Gulf.”
Support for the Muslim Brotherhood, opposed by the Saudi’s has caused a split in the Gulf Arab countries traditionally ruled by Sunni monarchies.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, for example, withdrew ambassadors out of Qatar, a Brotherhood supporter, which also maintains a relationship with Iran, the Saudi royal family’s mortal Islamic enemy.
The Saudi government is accused of financially supporting Al Qaida, in an effort to keep the terror organization out of Saudi Arabia.
Therefore, Turkey seeks Iran’s help to cultivate influence with the Gulf Arab countries as they decide which Sunni country – Saudi Arabia or Turkey – will become the major influence in the region.
The prophet Ezekiel warns of a coming war in which Turkey and Iran are allies against Israel. It is quite possible we are seeing the first steps to such an alliance in the making.