Gas & oil fields near Ahwaz, Iran via dynamosquito/flickr. Creative Commons SA2.0 license.
Despite their differences, Iran and Turkey — the two non-Arab Middle Eastern states — share many similarities. Both are among the largest and most populous states in the region. The former occupies a strategic location on the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz while the latter controls the Turkish Straits (the Bosporus, Sea of Marmara, and Dardanelles) that link the Black and Aegean Seas. Historically, the two nations have been home to ancient civilizations and have strong senses of national identity. On the other hand, Iran is prominently Shiite and since the 1979 Islamic Revolution its government system has been based on the “velayat e-faqih” doctrine. Turkey, which is prominently Sunni, is a secular state.
Energy is another major difference between Tehran and Ankara. The Islamic Republic holds massive proven oil and natural gas reserves and is a founding member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF). Iran was the first country in the Middle East where oil was discovered in 1908 and has since established itself as a major oil producer and exporter. The Islamic Republic consumes a large proportion of its gas production and is currently a net importer. However, ambitious plans are being implemented to substantially increase production and export. Meanwhile, Turkey holds limited oil and gas deposits and is heavily dependent on foreign supplies to meet its growing energy needs. Equally important, given the country’s strategic location between major producing regions (i.e., the Persian Gulf, Caspian Sea and Russia) and a key consuming market (i.e., the European Union), Turkey is widely considered a major oil and gas hub.
Turkey’s energy outlook
Iran’s energy outlook
The way forward
The Emerging Iranian-Turkish Energy Partnership: Strategic Implications by Gawdat Bahgat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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