Tel Aviv Notes 9, no. 9 (May 10, 2015)
Tehran and Ankara have enjoyed close relations since Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ascent to power in 2002, but their character has been substantially altered by the “Arab Spring” uprisings. The collapse, or near-collapse, of numerous Arab regimes has created a power vacuum in the region, which both Ankara and Tehran, the self-defined heirs to the respective Ottoman and Safavid/Qajar Empires, have sought to fill. Most recently, Turkey and Iran have found themselves on opposite sides of the conflict that has erupted in Yemen. Tehran is supporting the upstart (Zaydi) Shiʿi Houthi militia, while Ankara provides logistical support to the Sunni Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia to bolster the beleaguered Yemeni president ʿAbd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
Two months ago, Erdoğan declared that “Iran’s efforts to control the region are intolerable.” In response, at least 65 Iranian MPs demanded that President Hassan Rouhani cancel Erdoğan’s April state visit to Iran, in light of the Turkish president’s “careless statements."