Iran is a state that shows support for Turkey and then tries to stab it in the back, a senior adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said. Ilnur Cevik, who is also a columnist with pro-government Daily Sabah, added that although Tehran has not publicly opposed Turkey’s Olive Branch Operation in the Syrian northern town of Afrin, it is trying to sabotage the Turkish offensive secretly and undermines Ankara’s efforts to facilitate peace in the war-torn Arab country. "Turkey establishes security and peace in the areas it enters in Syria and helps to rebuild them, while Iran and the Assad regime bring destruction and devastation," he claimed. Cevik also accused Iran of aiding the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The presidential advisor further claimed that Ankara has always backed Tehran when it faced international pressure and does not support the latest anti-regime protests across Iran, but complained that Tehran has not reciprocated Ankara’s goodwill at the time of need.
Comment: Although Iran and Turkey have recently taken steps to reconcile some of their differences and strengthen bilateral ties, as Cevik’s remarks indicate, a deep level of mutual distrust and divergent regional interests continue to mar relations between the two non-Arab Middle Eastern powers. Ankara and Tehran will continue to compete for power and influence in Syria and Iraq as the weakening of the ISIS has created a power vacuum in the region. Turkey is also positioning itself as the protector of the Sunni communities in Syria and Iraq as well as the broader region, while Iran is expanding its arc of influence through the region's Shiite communities.