Debt row between Turkmenistan, Iran serves Saudi interest in Central Asia
Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 14
By Ali Mustafayev – Trend:
Settling the debt row between Turkmenistan and Iran won’t be the main problem for the IslamicRepublic since the tensions between the states are also related with Saudi Arabia’s interest in Turkmenistan and its energy projects, James Dorsey, a senior fellow at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, told Trend.
Saudi oil companies, such as Saudi Aramco, are showing interest in investing in Turkmenistan and, in this case, the energy conflict with Iran may serve the Kingdom’s intention to approve its position as a significant partner of Central Asian countries, and in particular of Turkmenistan by eliminating its rival.
“The background of the Saudi-Iranian rivalry plays an important role in Iran’s ties with Central Asia, with Saudi Arabia attempting to undermine Iran’s position,” said Dorsey.
Touching upon Iran’s significance for Central Asia, the expert mentioned the newly inaugurated Shahid Behehshti Port in Chabahar, which is expected to provide the Central Asian states, including Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, with new transit opportunities.
The strategic port, located in southeastern province of Sistan and Balouchestan, is expected to link trade corridors from India to Afghanistan, Central Asia and Russia.
Turkmenistan was forced to limit its natural gas supply to Iran because of the IslamicRepublic's debts since January 1, 2017. "National Iranian Gas Company has not taken necessary efforts to pay off its debt for the previously supplied Turkmen natural gas since 2013," the Turkmen Foreign Ministry said.
Turkmen side officially notified Iran about the possible restriction of natural gas supply in 2016.
According to Iran's Press TV, Ashgabat demanded Tehran to pay a $1.8 billion debt for gas supply in 2007-2008.