Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suddenly found himself
reassessing his government’s burgeoning ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran –
and sooner than expected.
One of the reasons Turkey agreed to Iran’s
demands and voted against new UN sanctions was because the Iranian government
promised it would continue to negotiate with the West. However, it did not take
long for Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to break his promise.
Soon after the
UN resolution was passed, he declared, through President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
that all negotiations will be suspended for two months.
This has clearly
angered the Turks, who may not be able to stand by Teheran for very much
And why should they? The US government is already breathing down
and word is that the meeting between the two sides at last month’s G20
Canada was tense. US President Barack Obama arrived late to the meeting,
there were no joint press statements or photographs taken together.
in addition to other reports that the US canceled its participation at a
regional security conference in Turkey a mere 12 hours before it
The Turkish government knew well in advance that its decision to
back Iran in the UN would raise the ire of the Americans.
hoped that the merits of the relationship with Teheran would compensate
and make such a policy worthwhile. Reality is proving otherwise. The
soon realized after sanctions passed that it wasn’t worth their while to
Iran’s nuclear cause. The Turks, based on Washington’s reaction and the
that Teheran broke its promise of negotiations, could very well reach
conclusion – and sooner than many expected.
This does not mean that
Turkey is going to break relations with Teheran, nor does it mean that
distance itself from Iran altogether. What it does mean is that Erdogan
AKP party will reduce their support for Iran’s cause in the UN. They
acting like Khamenei’s lawyer and defender in the West, because that’s
Khamenei wanted from them all along, and he was prepared to pay
it with a cheap gas deal and lucrative contracts for Turkish
NOW THAT new sanctions are going to be imposed by the UN, as
well as the US and the EU, the Iranian government is going to find it
buy political support at the UN.
One major reason will be the decline in
value of Iranian incentives. There are few countries which would now
side with Iran against the West. This means it will be more difficult
Khamenei to find heavy weight countries from the Nonaligned Movement to
stance. Even Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez is not as vociferous as he once
snubbed by Iran’s ties with Brazil, he did not attend the recent nuclear
This is just one impact of sanctions.
There are also
Some countries, including Israel, have dismissed
the latest round of sanctions.
The Iranian government has
Ahmadinejad has already started a domestic PR campaign to calm
In a recent interview he tried to downplay their impact by saying
that the US and Iran do not have any economic relations, therefore the
round won’t have any impact on Iran’s economy.
This is, of course, wrong.
Although direct trade between both countries is not very much, the new
sanctions is nevertheless going to hit the economy hard. First and
is going to become more difficult for American companies who were using
United Arab Emirates to resell their products to Iran. This is partly
due to the
UAE’s commitment to abide by the new sanctions.
There is also the oil
sector. The Iranian oil industry needs close to $140 billion of
the next 10 years to maintain its current production capacity. The new
sanctions will complicate the Iranian oil industry’s abilities to
investment it needs to keep functioning. It will also make it far more
and difficult to buy equipment for this all important sector. This is a
threat, one which in the long term could threaten the oil industry with a
Nuclear armed or not, these are dangers which Iran’s
leaders can only ignore at their own peril.
The writer is an
Iranian-Israeli Middle East analyst and coauthor of
Teheran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran. This article originally
appeared on www.realclearworld.com
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