Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Turkey Defies Iran Sanctions

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Turkey Defies Iran Sanctions

Article excerpt

Turkey Defies Iran Sanctions

"This provocative act, less than a full week after the signing of the Iran-Libya Oil Sanctions Act, is a direct challenge to our policy of economically isolating Iran...I urge you in the strongest of terms to seek a dialogue with Turkey...and prevent this deal from going forth, or place sanctions on Turkey, as called for in the legislation." Thus spoke Senator Alphonse D'Amato in a letter to Secretary of State Warren Christopher upon hearing of Turkey's $23 billion, 20-year agreement with Iran for the supply of Iranian gas to Turkey.

Although regulations implementing the Iran-Libya sanctions law have yet to be written, it is clear that the deal, as described, does not fall under the law. It is a trade arrangement, involving no Turkish investment in Iran. Furthermore, Turkey can argue, and has, that the deal predates the sanctions law, since it was initialed by Prime Minister Tansu Ciller last year.

Any deal is a violation if the president says it is.

However, under the law any deal is a violation if the president says it is. The president can "determine" that a person or company is in violation of the Act. Furthermore, although it is unlikely that any president would capriciously misuse this authority, that person or company has no recourse and cannot challenge the determination in court.(*) (We wonder about the constitutionality of this rather amazing provision, and would be interested to hear from any civilrights lawyers among our readers.)

In addition, D'Amato's sputtering raises the question of whether he or others in Congress who see Iran and Islamism as the main threats facing the world might try to pass even tougher legislation in the 105th Congress. While it is far too early to predict with any certainty, the feeling on Capitol Hill seems to be that the present law caused such an outcry among U.S. allies, and will be so difficult for any administration to implement, that Congress will take no further action at this time.

(*)"Sec. 11. Determinations Not Reviewable: A determination to impose sanctions under this act shall not be reviewable in any court."

Europe Prepares Retaliation Against U.S. Sanctions

After months of threatening retaliation if the U.S. Congress proceeded with its plans to extend its political agenda to the rest of the world by imposing secondary boycotts, the European Union Commission has begun to back up its threats with actions.

U.S. trading partners and various international trade and business organizations lobbied strongly to convince President Bill Clinton to veto both the Cuba sanctions act (the "Helms-Burton" bill) and the IranLibya sanctions act. However, by signing both bills into law, Clinton showed that in an election year, relations with domestic political blocs, the Cuba lobby in Florida, and the Israel lobby, are more important than relations with U.S. allies.

Shortly after President Clinton signed the Cuba sanctions act in mid-July, the EU Council of Foreign Ministers announced a series of counter-measures, including antiboycott legislation, the establishment of a "watch list" of U.S. companies benefitting from the U.S. measures, possible visa restrictions, and a promise to request a dispute settlement panel in the World Trade Organization. Then, in late July, the European Commission approved a draft antiboycott regulation that would prohibit any European person or company from complying with the U.S. Cuba sanctions legislation and would enable any European company damaged by the legislation to sue in a European court any U.S. company or subsidiary benefitting from the legislation.

Those Cuba-related counter-measures did not deter Clinton, who proceeded to sign the Iran-Libya sanctions act in early August, prompting EU Commission Vice President Leon Brittan to say that the act "establishes the unwelcome principle that one country can dictate the foreign policy of others." He made it clear that Europe intended to "defend its rights and interests. …

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