Free Markets, Free People

Turkey continues to sell gasoline to Iran despite sanctions

So now what?

We had the tough talk from Obama and the State Department about “new” sanctions designed to bring Iran to its knees over the development of nuclear weapons.

But now the administration is face with walking the walk concerning those sanctions.  And apparently Turkey isn’t at all worried or concerned about the US’s reaction:

Ankara will continue to permit Turkish companies to sell gasoline to Iran, despite US sanctions against fuel exports to Islamic regime, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

"If the preference of the private sector is to sell these products to Iran, we will help them," said Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz.

Tupras, Turkey’s sole oil refiner and gasoline exporter, expressed little fear of retribution from US Treasury officials who have the power to ban sanctions violators from accessing the US banking system or receiving US contracts.

"For us, Iran is more important than America because we get crude oil from them. We don’t get anything from America," a Tupras official was quoted as saying.

It seems that Turkey has figured out that our new motto is “Speak loudly and carry no stick”.  No fear and certainly no respect is shown in the statement by the Tupras official.  And Minister Yildiz is obviously waving away any official concern with his statement.

Two things are demonstrated by their stance.  A) Turkey is “all in” in it’s support of the “Islamic world”.  It has obviously made a choice between the being a part of the coalition of Middle Eastern Islamic countries and the West and NATO.  B) Turkey has been given absolutely no reason to believe we’ll actually enforce our sanctions and thus demonstrates no respect for them or the US.

I’m not sure that would have been the case 2 short years ago.  While Turkey was certainly moving away from the Western orbit at the time, their overt hostility to the US wasn’t at all evident.  And my guess is they knew the US would enforce sanctions then.  However, they have deduced that the US is a weak horse right now, and they plan to build their credibility in Middle East at our expense.  Defying the “Great Satan” is a great way to do that. 

And, of course, there’s the China problem.  China too is shipping in gasoline.  So in order to enforce sanctions against Turkey the US would have to do the same against China.  Oh – and our “good friends” the Russians as well.  Yeah, that’s right, Russia and China are both selling gasoline to Iran, and have come to no harm.  What’s the risk of bucking the US?  Turkey figures it to be nil.  And, it appears, they’re right.

The tough “new” sanctions, it appears, are a farce and our “friends” see no risk it flouting them.  It sort of boils down to the old western adage of “if you’re going to wear a gun, you have to be ready to use it”.  Apparently these three have figured out the gun the administration is wearing is empty.

There’s something to be said for respect and fear in foreign policy – but you have to actually do something (or be willing to do it) before the world community will heed what you say.  This administration’s weapons are words, not deeds.  And the expected result is on display in this little scenario, a scenario that you can expect to see replayed over and over and over again as long as it is in power.

~McQ

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13 Responses to Turkey continues to sell gasoline to Iran despite sanctions

  • I hear that gasoline stuff burns with the slightest provocation.  We’ve been provoked, and the sanctions made a joke.  Time for some burning?

  • Time to send the Kurds some “care packages”

    It goes both ways.

  • Awww Squire, be a shame if one of them tankers carrying gasoline was to run aground on an exploding zodiac boat eh?  eh? Nudge nudge wink wink – well my first instinct…but THAT is terrorism, so forget it.
    We need to do this the right way through channels – so….since that won’t happen, I hope the Iranians enjoy using cheaper gas to ferry their new fissonables around.   Maybe the messiah can offer them hybrid vehicles made by government motors if they’ll stop.

    • Is the track of a Hellfire missile a “channel”.  Cause I could see going through those channels.

      • I’m all for peaceful negotiation, and am willing to participate.  Right up to the point where they step over the line and we have to send Hellfires to get close up camera shots of their centrifuges suffering sudden catastrophic malfunctions.
         
        Alas, the negotiation from strength angle is long gone, the Iranians and associates understand what fills the suit of the President of the United States these days.  We’re screwed either way, whoever takes over next is going to be forced to exert muscle to prove that we will still exert muscle.  So far the only thing I see missing with this administration is we haven’t let anyone ‘borrow’ one of our embassy’s and staff for a year.  But you can bet the Iranians haven’t forgotten they did it once before with a man of essentially equal metal.

  • I doubt the Turks would have enforced the sanctions better under Bush.
    I am not sure anyone in State would play rough with them, and its simply too easy to ignore the sanctions. If caught, the Turks just point to Russia and China.

    • By the way, have sanctions ever worked, beyond the South Africa case?

    • I think the point is the sanctions were supposed to be a joint effort with Russia and China aboard. And the first set of sanctions had that.

      The ‘new’ sanctions were applied by the US only and simply assumed the rest of the world would go along. Under Bush, if history is any guide, “new” sanctions and cooperation with them would have been a signed and sealed deal before the announcement was ever made.

      This administration simply announces things and assumes everyone else will go along. Foreign Policy 101 seems to be a hard course for this bunch.

  • A threat is not credible unless it’s evident that you have the means and the will to carry it out. It’s probably too early to threaten to kick Turkey out of NATO. However, Turkey was approved last year to buy 30 F16 fighters. That would be a good place to start.