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Daily Israel Report

Iran, Syria, Turkey Cementing Ties

Iran made a point of declaring its solidarity with both Syria and Turkey in recent days, on the heels of joint Turkish-Syrian military exercises.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 5/3/2010, 3:44 PM / Last Update: 5/3/2010, 3:32 PM

Iran made a point of declaring its solidarity with both Syria and Turkey in recent days, on the heels of joint Turkish-Syrian military exercises.

Turkish and Syrian troops conducted three days of joint military drills and exercises last week, in the latest manifestation of the close ties between the two former adversaries. The exercises were aimed at increasing “cooperation and confidence between the land forces of the two countries, and rais[ing] border units' level of training and ability to work together," according to a joint statement.

On Friday, Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi visited Syria’s capital, Damascus, and said that Iran will always remain alongside Syria as the latter prepares to "confront any threat." Appearing in a joint press conference with Syrian Prime Minister Mohammad Naji Otri, Rahimi added that Iran will never stop for a moment supporting Syria against the “occupiers of the Palestine land.”

It was also announced during the visit that Iran and Syria are seriously considering the formation of a regional economic bloc, with Turkey and Iraq as their key partners.

Just a few days earlier, Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stressed the shared interests and concerns of his country and Turkey. He said that both can play important roles not only in safeguarding security in the region, but in “influencing the new world order.”

"Safeguarding the regional security and efforts aimed at influencing the new world order are the most important duties of our two countries," Ahmadinejad reiterated in a meeting with the newly-appointed Turkish envoy to Tehran. "Tehran and Ankara have lots of shared historic moments and interests, and at the international scene, too, our standpoints are quite close to each other… Iran and Turkey are also the center of the entire Muslims' reliance within the Islamic world, too."

Syria is immediately north-east of Israel, and Iraq is east of Syria; Turkey is located north of both Syria and Iraq, and Iran is east of both Turkey and Iraq. Israel has long eyed the improving relations among these three countries with concern, while at the same time once-warm Israeli-Turkish relations have cooled down significantly.