Iran is seeking to shore up its relations with Turkey, after it has conducted high level meetings with Iraq and Syria in recent weeks. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif journeyed to Ankara where he met with Turkey's foreign minister in a joint press conference. Turkey criticized US sanctions against Iran, even as other Turkish officials are in Washington trying to end a crisis with the US.
The Iranian foreign minister was on the second part of a trip that had already taken him to Syria, where he met Syrian President Bashar Assad. He also met Turkey's president in Ankara, noting that "for Iran, our region is always a priority." For Iran, this is an important trip – and especially for Zarif.
Zarif said that the US wants to control relations with other countries, hinting that Turkey must not be influenced by US views. "We will not allow the US to question our business with other countries." Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that US sanctions against Iran were "wrong." Turkey has expressed this view before. Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak is in Washington and the Defense Minister of Turkey also recently met his US counterpart.
This is part of the policy Turkey is seeking to conduct, trying to be allies with the US and Russia and also reach out to Iran. After years in which Turkey had many difficulties with its neighbors, including shooting down a Russian plane on the Syrian border and opposing Iran's role in the Syrian civil war, Ankara is trying to maneuver to be essential to each country so that they need Turkey more than Turkey needs them.
Seth Frantzman is The Jerusalem Post's op-ed editor, a Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and a founder of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis.