June 30, 2020 | The Hill

Declining Turkish-Iranian energy trade offers Washington an opportunity

June 30, 2020 | The Hill

Declining Turkish-Iranian energy trade offers Washington an opportunity

Excerpt

Economic issues were high on the agenda for Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif, who traveled to Istanbul for two days earlier this June. Zarif’s visit to Turkey marks his second foreign trip since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in Iran, and is a measure of the regime’s distressed financial situation due to U.S. sanctions.

But beneath a veneer of fraternal comments and anti-sanctions sentiment is a stark new reality for both Islamist governments. Turkey is no longer the market it once was for Iranian energy products.

Bluster notwithstanding, since the revocation of oil waivers by the Trump administration in May 2019, Ankara ceased its purchases of Iranian crude oil. It has spent the past two years picking up more American liquefied natural gas (LNG) and Azerbaijani gas than via pipeline from Iran. What’s more, Tehran’s overall trade statistics with Ankara have reportedly taken a downward turn, a phenomenon that has not gone unnoticed in Iran.

Aykan Erdemir is the senior director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies’ Turkey Program and a former member of the Turkish Parliament. Behnam Ben Taleblu is a senior fellow at FDD, where he contributes to FDD’s Iran program and covers Iranian political and security issues. Both contribute to FDD’s Center on Economic and Financial Power (CEFP). Follow Aykan on Twitter @aykan_erdemir

Read in The Hill

Issues:

Iran Sanctions and Illicit Finance Turkey