Following the crisis caused by a failed coup attempt in Turkey, a question that has been commonly asked by the Iranian people is what impact could developments in the neighboring country have on Iran and, at the end of the day, is downfall of Turkeys President Recep Tayyip Erdogan good for Iran or bad? To answer this question, a host of factors should be taken into consideration.
Economic conditions in Iran and Turkey, the crisis in Syria, the Saudi-led coalition, and the approach taken to Iran by Turkeys ruling Justice and Development Party are among those factors, which must be certainly taken into account and Iran's relation to those factors must be studied before an answer is given to these questions.
Is Turkeys security tantamount to Iran's security?
In short, the issue which is of utmost importance to the Islamic Republic of Iran with regard to Turkey is the existence of a powerful government. Iran and Turkey are situated in one of the most important parts of the Middle East region, which has been always a focus of attention and a breeding ground for the activities of terrorist groups and the two countries have 500 kilometers of common border as well.
This border is not an ordinary border because on average, a total of more than USD 40 million of trade and financial transactions are carried out through this border on a daily basis, so that, every day about 500 trucks and thousands of people cross through the Bazargan border crossing. This high volume of border communications causes each of these two sides not to have any benefit in seeing insecurity in the other country, because such a state of affairs would be harmful to them as well. Therefore, disruption of security in Turkey would affect security in our country as well and this is why we consider security in neighboring countries as tantamount to our own security and any crisis in Turkey or other neighboring countries, which would undermine security as well as the economic and political system in these countries, is not desirable to us and would have a negative impact on our national interests.
Is Erdogan remaining in power a suitable option for Iran?
The question, which is constantly raised in the political field, is whether Erdogan remaining in power is a suitable option for Iran or not? In reality, in view of Erdogans performance during past years, especially with regard to his efforts which counter the interests of Iran and other regional nations, there is no doubt that his past policies, particularly in Syria, have been in total opposition to the interests of the Syrian people as well as the overall security in the region. Part of the high costs that we are paying in Syria and even in Iraq, including costs in life and financial costs, are the direct result of policies and ambitions pursued by Erdogan and his Western and Saudi allies. However, it must be noted that although he is not a desirable option for us, in comparison with alternative options such as the rule of a coup government or the rule of supporters of Fethullah Gülen, who are staunch opponents of the Islamic Republic, or the rule of a totally non-Islamic government in Turkey, Erdogan is a better option than the rest. Three reasons, can be offered for this argument:
1. He is heading an Islamist government, 2. he has been helping Iran in various fields, including sanctions, though he has been also benefited by his moves, and, 3. open differences have emerged between Erdogan and Saudis in recent weeks. The climax of those differences was recent confidential negotiations between the governments of Erdogan and Syrias President Bashar Assad. Turkey has been also trying to get closer to Iran at a time when it was considered as a close friend of Saudi Arabia. This issue was more evident in the latest meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul, where Saudi Arabia was seeking to forge diplomatic consensus against Iran, but it practically failed to do so after Riyadh's demands were ignored by other members. Some analysts mention these conditions as a sign that Turkey is drifting away from Saudi Arabia. Last month, the Wall Street Journal wrote a detailed report on Turkey and Egypt distancing from Saudi Arabias policies and explained about emerging gaps in the triangle of Ankara, Cairo and Riyadh.
These conditions show that during recent months, Turkey has indicated its willingness to get close to Iran even with regard to one of the most critical issues which is current developments in the region.
Why Iran supports democracy in Turkey?
In reality, apart from security, political and economic effects that a coup government in Turkey could have on Iran, the Islamic Republic of Iran considers support for democracy and the rule of peoples will as the best solution to crises in all regional countries. Iran is not only supporting peoples will in Syria, but also in Turkey, if Erdogan is demanded by people, the important matter for Iran would be establishment of the peoples will, not imposing its own demands. Of course in the cases of Bahrain and Palestine and Yemen, this very option can also restore calm and security to these countries and prevent further killing of innocent people, though their Western supporters have been never ready to accept it.
This has been the main logic underlying Iran's foreign policy in past years. This point had been also highlighted in a meeting between Iran's Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei with Erdogan in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad, but Erdogan was not willing to heed Iran's logical and wise strategy at that time. Perhaps, now, amidst the ballyhoo of coup, Ankara will be able to see Iran's logic more clearly.