The Turkish American Crisis | Eurasia Diary -

19 May,

The Turkish American Crisis

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Currently, the relationship between Turkey and the United States are experiencing a deep crisis. And there is a big risk that relations between countries will will get even worse, with Iran as the main stumbling block.

On May 2, 2019, Washington ended waivers that allowed eight countries, including Turkey, to import Iranian oil. This means that any state that violates this prohibition will be subject now to international sanctions. Of course, this causes great concern in Ankara, since Tehran is a strategic supplier of crude oil for the Turkish economy. Meanwhile, Iran accounts for about 20 percent of natural gas imports to Turkey.

US President Donald Trump continues to put pressure on the Ayatollah regime, which is extremely worrying for Ankara. Because of this, the Turkish president spoke man, Ibrahim Kalin, publicly appealed to the US administration to prolong the validity of the waivers. So, now the case appears  as if Washington rejected all Turkish requests

A similar demarche by the United States caused intense irritation to the Turkish Foreign Minister who officially stated that other countries should not suffer because of the disagreements between Washington and Tehran. The context of his words was like this: “Guys, if you are at war with each other, then we have absolutely nothing to do with it!”.

Meanwhile, Ankara even tried to show pride, hinting Washington that it could turn to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for help in order to compensate for the loss of the Iranian oil market. However, Riyadh still has certain claims to Turkey because of the killing of Jamal Hashoggi, and therefore it is unlikely to agree for providing its oil to the Turks. Therefore, Ankara will have to rely on Iran anyway, despite the fact that Iranian “black gold” is expensive, because in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is even more expensive.

Nevertheless, hardly in Turkey will come “hard times” due to the loss of Iranian oil Ankara. Regardless of US policy, Turkey already reduced the volume of oil supplies from Tehran. So, only in June-November of 2018, that is, before the US sanctions, imports dropped by almost half, from 6,500 to 2,999 million tons. Therefore, even without the oil of Iran, it will lose almost nothing because now the main supplier of crude oil to Turkey is Iraq. In addition, Venezuela was added to the list of suppliers, and it is ready to sell oil to any country at practically dumping prices.

Thus, Turkey has many possibility to overtake the American prohibitions. But the biggest problem is not so much oil, as fluctuations in world prices for it. In the background of the internal economic crisis, such fluctuations entail an additional burden on the Turkish economy. Also, Turkey can’t look with approval at how the US is ruining Iran. The Ayatollah regime in the framework of the Astana and Sochi formats has turned for the Turks from a strategic opponent into a partner. Among other things, Ankara is indebted to Tehran, which put pressure on the Kurds after the referendum on independence in 2017.

Most likely, the international community will be witnessing a big split in the Turkish-American relations due the current Washington policy. Meanwhile, Recep Erdogan prefers to calm everyone down, stating that the situation can be remedied through his direct agreements with Donald Trump. However, the personal contacts of the Turkish and American leaders are unlikely to correct the situation. And of course also the Russian and Iran support to Turkey, against the United States, can lead to additional tension.

Denis Korkodinov 

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