Turkey, Iran and Pakistan should work together to diminish the negative effects of Washington's recent arbitrary moves in the Middle East, specifically on Iran, officials and experts from the three countries said.
Speaking at a symposium organized Friday in Ankara by the Center for Iranian Studies (IRAM), Rıza Hakan Tekin, acting director general for South Asia at the Turkish Foreign Ministry stressed that the three countries should vitalize bilateral and trilateral mechanisms to mitigate the effects of the Iranian sanctions and "short-sighted" U.S. policy in the Middle East.
"As Turkey, we have also been discussing Washington's strategy in the region with our U.S. counterparts, but this is their own policy. We should devise our own instruments [with Iran and Pakistan]. If we do our homework, it will be easier to deal with external challenges," Tekin said.
President Donald Trump's administration said Monday that it will no longer exempt any countries from U.S. sanctions if they continue to buy Iranian oil, stepping up pressure on Iran in a move that primarily affects the five remaining major importers: China and India, and U.S. treaty allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey. The decision means sanctions waivers for these five nations won't be renewed when they expire on May 2.
Speaking after Tekin, Iranian Ambassador to Ankara, Mohammed Farazmand, said that Turkey, Pakistan and Iran, more precisely all Muslim countries, should utilize their resources and capabilities to stand against common threats including sectarianism and extremism as well as against troubles such as U.S. actions in the Middle East.
"It is not only Iran but Turkey and Pakistan who are under pressure and also threatened by the outrageous U.S. sanctions," Farazmand said.
The U.S. has been attempting to push Turkey to reconsider its decision to buy the Russian-made S-400 defense systems, pointing that its steps could trigger Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
The Iranian ambassador added that recognizing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization and ending waivers for U.S. sanctions on Iran are not the only unilateral U.S. moves taken recently.
"They had another statement on the Golan Heights and occupied territories in the West Bank which are not in the interest of countries in the region," he said. In March, the White House recognized the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights in a controversial decision after it recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017, despite Palestinian claims on the eastern part of the city, breaking with longstanding U.S. policy. Both decisions received serious backlash from the international community.
Gulshan Bibi, an expert from the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (ISSI), said that U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signaled trouble ahead for Iran, as well as for countries supporting or having economic relations with Iran, but that could not materialize due to the intended impact and so countries quickly initiated readjustment strategies.
"In the broader picture, it is quite apparent that Turkey, Iran and Pakistan could act as cooperative partners in the economic and security domains," she said.
Another expert from the Tehran-based Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS), Saeed Khatibzadeh, emphasized that the U.S. had intensively negotiated with Iran to reach a nuclear deal, and "reached a win-win final situation," but now was actively trying to demolish the deal by trying to pushing Iran out of the JCPOA.
Trump took the decision of ending waivers on Iranian sanctions as part of his administration's "maximum pressure" campaign on Iran that aims to eliminate all of its revenue from oil exports that the U.S. says funds destabilizing activity throughout the Middle East and beyond. With this decision, no more sanctions waivers will be granted, choking off Iranian incomethat had been more than $50 billion a year.