Iran and Turkey agree to increase military cooperation

Turkish military Chief of Staff Hulusi Akar and his Iranian counterpart Gen. Mohammed Baqeri review the guard of honor during a welcoming ceremony in Ankara. (Reuters)
Updated 18 August 2017

Iran and Turkey agree to increase military cooperation

ANKARA: Following a series of talks in Ankara this week between Iranian military officers and Turkish civilian and military leaders, Turkey and Iran have agreed to strengthen their military cooperation.
This will include sharing counter-terrorism intelligence, conducting operational cooperation and the exchange of cadets between the two armies.
In the first ever visit to Turkey by the head of Iran’s army since 1979, Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Mohammed Baqeri met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, military Chief of Staff Hulusi Akar and Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli.
The visit will be followed soon by the visit of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Turkish officials announced.
Iran and Turkey, having a significant Kurdish population within their borders, currently cooperate on regional concerns and sensitivities, especially regarding the Kurdish independence referendum of Northern Iraq scheduled for Sept. 25. Both countries have fought Kurdish separatist groups for many years — Iran fighting the PJAK and Turkey the PKK.
Both countries want a power broker role in war-torn Syria — both worried about the possible repercussions of the continued conflict and how it could affect regional stability.
Although on the opposite sides of the Syrian conflict, Ankara and Tehran cooperate on peace talks and have helped the evacuation of civilians from Aleppo, while also sharing concerns over the rise of radical fighters in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib.
Along with Russia, they have tried to gather the Syrian regime and opposition forces in Astana, the Kazakhstan capital, to negotiate a political transition in the country.
Turkey is currently building a 90-mile wall along its border with Iran to prevent Kurdish militants from entering.
The timing of the visit is telling with the region going through dramatic changes in terms of security, requiring coordination between regional actors.
Prof. Mehmet Seyfettin Erol, head of the Ankara Center for Crisis and Policy Studies (ANKASAM), said the decision taken by Turkey and Iran to share intelligence demonstrated the magnitude of the common threat that both states face.
“Intelligence sharing also comprehends an important message concerning the depth and dimension of conciliatory relations in the future,” Erol told Arab News.
“The intelligence sharing activity carried out with numerous countries and now initiated with Iran showcase the ... shift in Ankara’s foreign policy.”
Erol noted that both states are bidding to eliminate the threat by consuming the struggles between them and pursuing Syria and Iraq-focused policies.
“In this regard, it is important to preserve the status quo in the region and to obstruct non-regional actors from their quest of establishing a ‘Greater Kurdistan’. Hence Syria functions as the beginning of an experiment,” he added.
According to Erol, this experience may later be expanded and institutionalized between the two countries as it has been done before through Saadabat and Baghdad Pacts in the past.


Kais Saied wins Tunisia presidency by ‘significant margin’

Updated 14 October 2019

Kais Saied wins Tunisia presidency by ‘significant margin’

  • Saied garnered 2.7 million votes against one million received by his rival business tycoon Nabil Karoui in Sunday's runoff, the commission said

TUNIS: Tunisia's election commission said a preliminary count shows conservative law professor Kais Saied has won the country's presidential election by a significant margin.
The commission reported Monday that Saied, who hasn't held elected office before, received 72.71% of the vote. His opponent, media mogul Nabil Karoui, got 27.29%.
The results confirm exit polls from Sunday's election.
Nabil Bafoun, head of the electoral commission, said "by looking at the result ... and knowing that it represents an absolute majority for this second round of the presidential elections, we, the Tunisian electoral commission, declare Mister Kais Saied winner of the presidential elections."
The commission said that Saied got a majority of the votes in each of the 33 electoral districts. He exceeded 90% in six traditionally very conservative southern districts.
The 61-year-old Saied is an independent outsider but has support from moderate party Ennahdha, which won Tunisia's parliamentary election last week.
He has promised to overhaul the country's governing structure to give more power to young people and local governments.
Karoui, 56, told supporters Sunday the race wasn't over because his legal team would explore options. He was arrested Aug. 23 in a corruption investigation and released with only two days left to campaign.
French President Emmanuel Macron congratulated Saied for his election in a phone call Monday and wished him "success for Tunisia."
Macron stressed the Tunisian people's "democratic mobilization" over the past several weeks. He told Saied that he intends to pursue and enhance the partnership between the two countries.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi congratulated the Tunisian people and the elected president in a written statement.
If no legal action is taken to challenge the results, the electoral body is set to announce the definitive vote count on Thursday. Tunisia's parliament will then hold an extraordinary session during which the newly elected president will be sworn in and will formally start his five-year term.
The presidential vote was held early following the July death in office of President Beji Caid Essebsi.