- Research Programs
- Regions & Topics
- All Publications
A nation must think before it acts.
One of the more curious and troubling developments in the course of the Syrian civil war has been Turkey’s rapprochement with Russia and cooperation with Iran.
For centuries, Turkey and Russia were enemies, regardless of who ruled each country. To begin with, Russia considered itself (and still considers itself) the custodian of the true Eastern Orthodox Church after the fall of Byzantium to the Turks. The Ottomans regularly fought the czars, especially over Russian attempts to gain access to the Mediterranean Sea. Turkey remained neutral in World War II, which benefitted Nazi Germany as much if not more than Soviet Russia. And Turkey joined NATO, giving the alliance its longest border with the Soviet Union. There was never much love between the two countries.
Turkish relations with Iran were nearly as antagonistic for some 150 years, but subsequently transformed into mutual caution and suspicion. After all, Shia Persia never came under the control of the Sunni Ottomans. That the three countries have begun to work closely together to contain the Syrian civil war is more a function of their perceived perception of American weakness than of any upsurge in mutual love.