Al Monitor| Fehim Taştekin: For hundreds of years, since the 1639 Qasr-e Shirin Treaty, Turkey and Iran have maintained a pretty peaceful coexistence, not letting occasional political spats and regional rivalry affect their economic relations. Both sides have become masters of not crossing critical thresholds in their relations. But political tensions arising from the Syrian proxy war have eroded that mastery, and economic relations are now threatened.
Sometimes, Turkey just can’t seem to help itself. Other times, its diplomatic lapses seem intentional. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu both managed to insult Iran recently in high-profile venues, resulting in high-profile economic damage.
In a statement last week in Bahrain, Erdogan accused Iran of trying to split Iraq and Syria by resorting to Persian nationalism, which he said had to be prevented. Cavusoglu, speaking Feb. 19 at the Munich conference, said, “Iran is trying to create two Shiite states in Syria and Iraq. This is very dangerous. It must be stopped.”
Not surprisingly, Tehran was angry. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi replied strongly, saying those who support terror organizations, who cause bloodshed, who lead the way to tensions and instability in the region cannot escape from their responsibility by accusing others. “We are acting patiently, but there is a limit to that. If our Turkish friends repeat these type of remarks, we will have to respond.”