Dynamics of Estrangement and Realignment in Turkey-Iran Affairs in the 2000s: Exploring the US Dimension
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This chapter explores the dynamics of estrangement and realignment in Turkey–Iran affairs and discusses the role of the U.S. in the complex interplay of cooperation and competition between Turkey and Iran throughout the 2000s. It traces the shifts in bilateral affairs from alignment in the early 2000s to estrangement between 2012 and 2016 and to realignment since mid-2016. The chapter argues that the growing estrangement in Turkish-Iranian affairs during the Arab Uprisings mostly pertained to their own countervailing positions as two rising regional powers at a time when the U.S. was rather relatively absent or reluctant to act in the Middle East. In the post-2016 era, Turkey and Iran started to realign, as both states’ contentious relations with the U.S. and uncertainties of American policy in the region drew them closer and granted them a ground to dissipate divergences. However, the recent realignment does not necessarily mean an end of Turkish-Iranian competition or the birth of a full-fledged strategic partnership. It may at best signal a return to soft balancing with many potential and actual areas for continuous rivalry in place.