Turkey as mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran

Turkey as mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran
07:32 7 Aprel 2015
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Baku, Azerbaijan, April 6

By Rufiz Hafizoglu – Trend:

Iran and Turkey are two Muslim countries that do not hide their political and economic ambitions in the region.

Despite the differences between the two countries concerning the Syrian and Yemeni crises, this almost does not affect the economic relations between them.

The imports from Iran to Turkey amounted to $ 9.8 billion as of 2014, while the exports from Turkey to Iran during this period hit $ 3.8 billion, the Turkish Statistics Institute said. The bilateral trade amounted to $14.4 billion in 2013.

If earlier, the Turkish authorities actively opposed the Syrian regime, by accusing Iran of supporting President Bashar al-Assad, there almost have not been any such statements made by the Turkish authorities recently.

But yet another source of conflict emerged in the region – in Yemen, where Turkey is a member of the so-called Sunni coalition against the Shiite rebels actively supported by Iran.

An international military operation involving armed forces units of a number of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia was launched in Yemen since March 26. The operation is directed against a militant group of the Shiite Houthi movement “Ansar Allah” (Supporters of God).

Prior to the beginning of military operations in Yemen, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a statement that Iran seeks to dominate the region. He said that this has already begun to irritate the United States, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states, which is unacceptable, and Iran should know about it.

Erdogan's statement triggered a sharp reaction of a number of Iranian MPs. Some 65 MPs demanded an official apology for these statements, according to the Iranian Fars News Agency.

Against the backdrop of tense political, but stable economic relations, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will pay a visit to Tehran on Apr.7. Alongside with meeting Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, Erdogan is also expected to meet the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

During the visit, the sides will discuss the Syrian crisis and the growing radicalism in the region, developments in Iraq (fight against the militants of the “Islamic State”), situation in Yemen (Iran’s support to Houthis), as well as the economic relations between Turkey and Iran.

The crises in the region, namely the confrontation between Sunnis and Shiites will be the main issues on the agenda of the negotiations.

Strange as it may seem, the competition between Iran and Saudi Arabia stands at the heart of almost all the armed conflicts in the Arab world. The interested forces gradually managed to deepen it, which resulted in the Shiite-Sunni conflict, aimed at creating new states in the region.

Given this, it is possible to say that the Turkish president’s expected visit to Iran also has the nature of mediation between Tehran and Riyadh.

The effectiveness of this mediation depends exactly on Erdogan’s meeting with Iran’s supreme leader.

As for the economic relations of Tehran and Ankara on the backdrop of the expected lifting of sanctions from Iran, it could be asserted that after the removal of these sanctions, the parties’ trade relations will develop even more intensively.

Edited by SI

Rufiz Hafizoglu is the head of Trend Agency's Arabic news service, follow him on Twitter: @rhafizoglu

Follow us on Twitter @TRENDNewsAgency

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