In a trilateral meeting between the foreign ministers of Iran, Turkey, and Azerbaijan, the bordering nations doubled-down on their commitment to the full implementation of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal -known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – which would put them in the crosshairs of the Trump administration as it has been actively attempting to court governments who have close relations with Tehran to join the White House in its new round of sanctions against the Islamic Republic after Trump walked out of the deal earlier this year.
The US’ new sanctions on Iranian oil come into force on November 4 and they could have a major effect on the Turks, in particular, as approximately 50% of Turkey’s oil imports originate from Iran. The US’ sanctions are designed to punish companies that continue to do business with Iranian corporations of the government, which has caused major corporations with large investments – including TOTAL, Daimler, Renault, and Peugeot – to leave the Islamic Republic after reestablishing operations in the wake of the nuclear deal from three years ago.
Iran, Turkey, and Azerbaijan denounced unilateral sanctions against Tehran in a joint statement and called for increased cooperation to promote regional security and stability and said they would step up their cooperation in the fight against terrorism, organised crime, human trafficking, money laundering, and cybercrime.
The news will not be received well in Washington only days after National Security Advisor John Bolton completed a tour of the South Caucasus, where he had hoped to convince the Azeri government to join the White House’s latest attempt to strong-arm Iran.
While the joint statement on fighting some of the world’s more odious crimes will be welcomed, some observers may note the inherent contradictions of the three government’s intentions when considering Iran continued sponsorship, supply, and training of active terrorist organisations like Hezbollah and Hamas; Turkey’s record as a major nexus point for human and organ trafficking from Eastern Europe and the Balkans that dates back to the 1990s; and Azerbaijan’s well-known reputation as one of the world’s more frequent money launderers.