Key Points

The importers of Iranian petrochemicals continue to include both U.S. allies as well as rivals. Countries that share a land border with Iran – including Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan – remain among its best customers; so do two Persian Gulf states – the UAE and Oman – that share maritime borders. This geographical proximity means that Tehran could easily smuggle payments back home in the form of either foreign currency or precious metals. Curbing Iran’s petrochemical exports will require intense negotiation with countries that are prepared to find new suppliers. An aggressive use of sanctions and other punitive measures may be needed for those who refuse to comply.

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Finally, the U.S. should seek agreement with China but be prepared to wield sanctions and other punitive measures. Telecom giant Huawei is already facing federal charges for violating sanctions on Iran and then destroying evidence of it. The president should be wary of hollow promises from Beijing that entail no meaningful change in its behavior.

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Turkey’s minorities’ best hope, at this point, would be to avoid becoming scapegoats of Erdoğan’s wrath, and to receive his benevolence as his loyal subjects.

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While Ankara boasts of its commitment to defeating the Islamic State, Turkey continues to be a major jurisdiction for illicit finance – evident also in its facilitation of Iranian and Venezuelan sanctions evasion schemes. The U.S. should urge Ankara to adopt a zero tolerance policy toward terror finance, and to end its permissive policies and lenient treatment of jihadist networks within Turkey. Rather than jailing dissident academics, journalists, and opposition politicians, Ankara should instead focus its law enforcement resources on the jihadist networks and financiers who threaten Turkey’s national security.

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Although the current political climate in the United States makes additional financial support to Europe challenging, it is not altogether impossible. U.S. President Donald Trump has signaled that exporting gas to Europe is a priority, and the administration should work with European partners to operationalize that goal and thwart Moscow’s Middle East energy land bridge. Europe’s energy security and America’s influence in the Middle East are too important to cede to Russia.

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EVENT: Results of Erdogan's Snap Election Gambit: Implications for U.S.-Turkey Relations

June 27, 2018 | 11:45