Turkey, Iran struggle with soft power

Turkey and Iran are finding it tough to compete with Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the region and are seeking to resolve their differences by focusing on economics and trade, rather than hard power and proxy battles, said James M. Dorsey, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and Middle East Institute in Singapore.

“Neither Turkey nor Iran can afford the setbacks that often are the result of hubris. Both have bigger geopolitical, diplomatic, and economic fish to fry,” Dorsey said in the Eurasia Review on Monday.

Both Turkey and Iran are seeking to play a leading role in the Muslim world, Turkey among the Sunnis and Iran among Shiites.

Political setbacks at home are hurting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s position as “a fierce defender of Muslim causes,” Dorsey said.

Accusations against Erdoğan of money laundering and economic mismanagement, and his call to expel the ambassadors of ten Western countries including the United States, Germany and France, who jointly called for the release of philanthropist Osman Kavala, jailed since 2017, have come at a time that Erdoğan’s popularity is declining in opinion polls, he said.

“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, fuelling concern in Tehran that its detractors are encircling it, and putting a dent in the way Iran would like to project itself,” Dorsey said.



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