Asymetry of Interest? Turkish-Iranian Relations since 1979
This book examines the political and economic relations between Turkey and Iran since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. It shows that contrary to the expectation that the revolution would usher in an era of ideological hostility between the two neighbors, relations were primarily framed in an imbalanced manner irrespective of ideology. On the one hand, Iran largely continued the Shah’s foreign policy of benign neglect vis-à-vis Turkey, focusing on overcoming isolation and expanding Iranian influence in the Gulf and the wider Middle East. On the other hand, Turkey was acutely attentive to Iran’s potential – intentionally as well as inadvertently - to generate security threats or economic opportunities. As such, there was an asymmetry of interest between the Turkish and Iranian elites in the affairs of their neighbor. This asymmetry ended in the first decade of the 21st century due to changes in domestic Turkish politics, the US invasion of Iraq, complementary economic developments and Iran’s nuclear dispute. Yet, this underlying dynamic continues to explain why these two regional powers continue to engage in contradictory relations, vacillating between rivalry and partnership.