Turkey Doesn’t Have Many Friends in Washington Right Now
Arms from Russia, oil from Iran—Turkey is turning away from the West. But severing ties is risky. It has no other reliable partners, says Ian Lesser of the German Marshall Fund in an interview with DW.
DW: The United States plan to tighten sanctions against Iran would also affect Turkey. Recently, the United States announced that, from May, eight countries—among them Turkey—should no longer be allowed to import Iranian oil without penalty, scrapping an existing exemption for these countries. The Turkish government has already criticized this plan harshly. Could a ban on oil imports from Iran increase tensions between Ankara and Washington even further?
Ian Lesser: Terminating the exemption rule is not directly aimed at Turkey. The sanctions are clearly targeting Iran. At the moment, the Trump administration is increasingly hardening its approach to the Islamic Republic. However, Turkey’s concerns are understandable in context of its recent history. The country still recalls how its economy suffered whenever sanctions were imposed against Iraq, Iran, or Russia in previous decades. Sanctions as a foreign policy tool are wildly unpopular in Turkey.