Image Credit: BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images
Turkey and Iran have been rivals since long before there was a Turkey or an Iran. Since the emergence of the Safavid Empire in the early 16th century, and spanning 300 years thereafter, Persia and Turkey – then the Ottoman Empire – fought wars for control of the Caucasus, the Fertile Crescent, and the hearts and minds of Muslims throughout the world. Empires and dynasties rose and fell but the rivalry lived on, dying down only in the 19th century, as both sides became too weak to resist the growing menace of the Europeans. By the Cold War, Turkey was a NATO member and an important component in the containment line around the Soviet Union.
It wasn’t until the late 20th century and the fall of the USSR that Turkey was free to define its own security needs. Lately, Turkey and Iran have been cooperating closely in Syria, they have boosted bilateral trade, and they’ve even worked together to protect Qatar from the Gulf state blockade. But those security needs put Turk