Tehran’s choice of Unit International is no coincidence — the company has engaged in cross-national electricity trade for years and is one of the 42 companies from 35 countries that are part of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity.
Yet Mohsen points out two major challenges to greater Turkish investment in Iran. “President Hassan Rouhani’s administration wants these investments to happen very quickly. The investments should start arriving in a month or two because although the Iranian economy is in better shape compared to 2013 when Rouhani came to power, for him to get re-elected in 2017, he needs noticeable improvements in the economy. American and European companies are still worried about the sanctions after ‘Barjam’ [the Iran nuclear deal — officially the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] and cannot come that quickly — but Turkish companies could.”
According to Mohsen, Syria is the bigger issue. “Tehran will demand concessions from Ankara, especially in Syria, to offer contracts to Turkish companies and natural gas to Turkey. Does Turkey want to buy more gas from and more business in Iran? Yes, but can [Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan take a step back in Syria and respect Iran’s red lines, I am not so sure,” he said.
Turkey and Iran’s fates are tied more closely than ever. Whether their leaders can act on that remains to be seen.