All not well between Iran and Turkey? Raisi misses Erdogan summit

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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi did not attend the summit in Ankara on Tuesday when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave an earlier briefing to reporters – but Tehran itself has not officially confirmed.

Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi attends an emergency meeting.(AFP)

The confusion surrounding Raisi’s visit underscores the tension between the two regional powers, despite their shared views on the war between Israel and Hamas.

The Turkish president told Agence France-Presse that Erdogan had no meetings scheduled for Tuesday and did not clarify whether the visit had been canceled or postponed.

Raisi’s visit to Turkey has been postponed, according to Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency.

He also did not give any reason or other details.

Erdoğan made the announcement on November 11 when he returned to Turkey from the regional leaders’ conference in Riyadh, attended by Raisi, the first official visit of the Iranian president.

“Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi will come to us on the 28th of the month,” Erdogan told reporters on the plane.

The visit was announced by Turkish state media and was widely discussed on television until Monday morning.

But it has not been officially confirmed by Rasi’s office or Iran’s official media.

The two presidents and the country’s top diplomats held a phone conversation over the weekend focused on the war in Gaza.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdolalian said after the call, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said, “It is our hope that the two (our countries) can continue to strengthen and strengthen mutual cooperation with the continuation of the high level of diplomatic relations between the two countries.”

Complex relationships

Erdogan has emerged as one of the Muslim world’s most outspoken critics of Israel’s attack on Gaza in response to the Oct. 7 attack on Hamas militants.

He has labeled Israel a “terrorist state” and Iran-backed Hamas as a “liberation group”.

But analysts say Iran wants Turkey to go beyond its rhetoric and cut trade and energy ties with Israel.

Iran expects Turkey to end its direct and indirect trade with Israel, Haki Uygur, director of the Istanbul Center for Iranian Studies, told AFP.

On the other hand, Turkey has adopted a position that considers the separation of political and commercial issues.

Gaza’s Hamas-led government says Israel has killed 1,200 people in cross-border attacks by Hamas, which Israel says have killed about 15,000 people — mostly civilians and thousands of children.

Iran and Turkey share a 535-kilometer (330-mile) border and a complex history of close economic ties and opposing views on regional disputes.

Turkey has backed rebels in Syria’s civil war to oust President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Iran and Russia.

Ankara’s support for Azerbaijan’s two victorious wars against Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh has also caused serious concern in Iran.

Tehran fears that Baku’s resurgence in the Caucasus region could feed the separatist ambitions of Iran’s large ethnic Azerbaijanis.

Iran is concerned that a proposed trade route between Azerbaijan and Turkey on the northern border could complicate access to Armenia.

“The most important conflict between Turkey and Iran was over the Caucasus and Karabakh,” said Ankara-based Iran expert Arif Keskin.

“With the Gaza conflict, this issue has been pushed to the back burner, but it still remains an important issue,” Keskin told AFP.

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