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Turkey: Iran
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > External Security Concerns > Iran


Frictions with the Tehran government stem largely from competing philosophies -- the secularism at the root of the Turkish system and the Shia orientation of Iran. The Turkish government has refrained from accusing Iran of direct responsibility for incidents of Islamist terrorism. However, the Turkish minister of interior declared in 1993 that the perpetrators of a series of murders of well-known secularist figures had been trained in Iran and helped by the staff of the Iranian Cultural Center in Ankara. Turkey considers such attacks a threat to national security because the government and laws of the modern Turkish state are so closely identified with its secular tradition.

Another source of potential tension is Turkey's support of Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia. Tehran fears that a nationalistic Azerbaijan friendly to Turkey could encourage unrest in northern Iran, which has a considerable Azerbaijani population. Turkey estimates that about 800 Kurdish guerrillas are based in Iranian territory. Tehran has denied supporting them, and in December 1993 the two countries announced that an agreement had been reached to prevent the guerrillas from using Iran as a sanctuary.

Data as of January 1995

Last Updated: January 1995

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Turkey was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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