Turkey can support Biden’s work to salvage Iran nuclear deal - analysts

Turkey is likely to welcome U.S. President Joe Biden’s push for the United States to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal to reduce tensions in the Middle East, wrote Giorgio Cafiero and Sina Azodi from the geopolitical risk consultancy Gulf State Analytics.

Turkey was never in favour of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the pair said in an opinion piece with the London-based news site The New Arab

The two analysts explained that the confrontational approach to Iran created by the “maximum pressure” policy pursued by the Trump administration generated risks for Turkey by harming their bilateral trade with Tehran and creating instability through actions like killing Qassem Soleimani, who was the country’s top general. 

“It is a safe bet that if Biden takes the proper steps to salvage the Iranian nuclear deal, Turkey will provide the US president with steadfast support,” they wrote.

They add that Turkey does have competing interests with Iran and disagreements with its sponsorship of proxies across the region, it would prefer to not see Iran-U.S tensions reach a boiling point. 

Turkish leaders have also voiced their support for renewed negotiations. In February, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described Biden’s desire to rejoin the JCPOA as a “window of opportunity” and the “most reasonable course of action.” 

Because of Turkey’s troubled relationship with the U.S, it may have a limited ability to mediate between it and Iran as it once tried to do prior to the JCPOA. Cafiero and Azodi suggest instead that Ankara can likely lend its support to mediation efforts already underway from Qatar and Oman, who have positioned themselves as bridges for the U.S and Iran. 

“Ultimately, Turkey would find itself a winner from a restoration of the JCPOA, particularly considering the positive implications for Turkey's economy from the standpoint of energy, trade, and tourism,” said the analysts. 

They add that Turkey’s support for a U.S return to the Iran deal would place it in a camp of countries that include Iraq, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Jordan who support an American return to the JCPOA. Opposite of them are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Israel, who oppose any negotiation with Iran.