Joint operations new thinking in Turkey’s Iran strategy

MNA – Professor of political science says Turkey’s tendency for joint military action with Iran signals a new thinking in Ankara’s strategic outlook towards Tehran, but difficult under the current political situation.

There were some reports that Turkey and Iran have discussed possible joint military action against Kurdish militant groups, after talks in Ankara last week between the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces and Turkish leaders.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has denied the claim by some Turkish officials that the two countries were planning to conduct joint military operations against Kurdish rebel groups beyond the country’s borders.

On August 22, IRGC in a statement announced, “We have not planned any operations across the borders of the Islamic Republic of Iran. But as always we will strongly confront any group, team, or person who wants to penetrate into Iran’s territory for anti-security or terrorist operations.”

To shed further light on the feasibility of such a joint action, Payman Yazdani had an interview with Professor and Chair of Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice, University of South Alabama, Nader Entessar..

Here is the full text of this interview:.

How feasible is joint military action by Iran and Turkey against threatening groups?

Iran and Turkey are two major countries in the Middle East, and each has its own unique capability. If there is political will, the two countries can certainly coordinate their military activities and use their combined military capabilities against their adversaries. However, we should also remember that priorities of Tehran and Ankara are not the same in many cases. This may make sustained joint military action difficult under the current political situation.

Can these agreements be considered as a shift in Turkeys strategies toward Iran?

The agreements are certainly among the most significant ones in the past 40 years between the two countries. They may also signal a new thinking in Turkey’s strategic outlook towards Iran. Only time will tell if the agreements are truly strategic or simply tactical moves necessitated by changing conditions in the region.

How can Turkey make a balance between its cooperation with Iran and NATO and the West?

Turkey’s NATO membership will continue to present one of the most formidable obstacles on a close Iran-Turkey military alliance. There are treaty obligations that Turkey is bound to honor as a crucial pillar of NATO’s southern flank, and Ankara cannot afford to deviate significantly from NATO’s policies when it comes to military cooperation with Iran.

Will this visit lead to two sides’ cooperation in Syria?

IN the past few months, Turkey has been gradually changing its hard-line Syria outlook and has been participating with Russia and Iran in different fora (e.g. Astana meetings) to tackle the crisis in Syria. General Bagheri’s recent visit to Turkey and his high-level talks in that country were about different issues, but the Syrian crisis played an important role in these talks. I am certain the two sides discussed methods by which they can enhance their cooperation in dealing with the Syrian crisis.

Interview by: Payman Yazdani