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Between Iran and a Hard Place

FAMAGUSTA – Turkey has tried to broker negotiations between Iran and the West over Iran’s nuclear program. But, with talks repeatedly failing to generate any substantive progress, Turkey’s leaders are beginning to consider how a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities would affect their country’s interests.

When Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, it sought to improve relations with Iran. To some degree, the two countries began with a blank slate, given that they had largely kept their distance from each other for several centuries. But Turkey’s mediating role in nuclear negotiations fueled suspicion in Iran, complicating Turkey’s efforts to establish a strong bilateral relationship.

But Turkey persisted. After all, it had staked its foreign policy on building relationships with its neighbors, and its leaders believed that their country’s NATO membership and geographical position would help it to assume an influential role in the region.

In order to capitalize on Turkey’s strengths, its government insisted on participating in the nuclear talks – even hosting a session in Istanbul this year. According to Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Turkey’s priority was “a stable and secure region within the framework of a new global order.”