It has not quite been eight months since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan riled Tehran by referring to Iranian expansionism as "Persian nationalism." That televised statement earned the Turkish ambassador a summons to the Iranian Foreign Ministry to receive a strongly worded protest. Long-standing regional competition between Ankara and Tehran has, however, begun to show the first signs of a rapprochement during the ongoing crisis between Qatar and a Saudi-led Arab coalition, in which Turkey backs Qatar. In addition, the Sept. 25 independence referendum held by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq has resulted in the Ankara-Tehran relationship quickly assuming features of military-security cooperation. The question now is whether their converging military-security interests will be formalized.
Three meetings provide insight into the rapprochement and its future direction: the Aug. 14-15 visit of Iranian Chief of Staff Gen. Mohammad Bagheri to Ankara; the Oct. 1-4 visit to Tehran by Turkish Chief of the General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar; and the Oct. 4 visit to Tehran by Erdogan.
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