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Iran, Turkey revive relations amid nuclear sanctions

Leaders of 2 countries also agree to discuss removal of some obstacles, says Iranian foreign minister

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Iran and Turkey agreed Sunday to strive for a “comprehensive improvement of relations” in a meeting at the 15th summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) in Turkmenistan’s capital Ashgabat.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Twitter that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan also agreed to convene a high commission meeting during Erdogan’s next visit to Iran’s capital Tehran.

Describing relations between the two countries as “historic,” Abdollahian said “it was agreed to talk about the comprehensive improvement of relations and the removal of some obstacles.”

Raisi and Erdogan held a closed-door meeting as part of the summit.

How Iran’s relations with other Arab states is changing?

In Iran’s case, a combination of factors is changing the dynamics of Iran’s relations with some of its allied Arab militias, calling into question the domestic positioning of some of those militias, fueling concern in Tehran that its detractors are encircling it, and putting a dent in the way Iran would like to project itself.

A just-published report by the Combatting Terrorism Center at the US Military Academy West Point concluded that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) faced “growing difficulties in controlling local militant cells. Hardline anti-US militias struggle with the contending needs to de-escalate US-Iran tensions, meet the demands of their base for anti-US operations, and simultaneously evolve non-kinetic political and social wings.”

Read more: Turkey announces to build stronger ties with Iran despite sanctions

Iranian de-escalation of tensions with the United States is a function of efforts to revive the defunct 2015 international agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program and talks aimed at improving relations with Saudi Arabia even if they have yet to produce concrete results.

In addition, like in Lebanon, Iranian soft power in Iraq has been challenged by growing Iraqi public opposition to sectarianism and Iranian-backed Shiite militias that are at best only nominally controlled by the state.

Read more: Why Russia, Turkey and Iran are natural allies

Even worse, militias, including Hezbollah, the Arab world’s foremost Iranian-supported armed group, have been identified with corrupt elites in Lebanon and Iraq. Many in Lebanon oppose Hezbollah as part of an elite that has allowed the Lebanese state to collapse to protect its vested interests.

Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk