In an interview wtih Al-Monitor‘s Mehmet Cetingulec, Turkey’s Minister of Economy Nihat Zeybekci said said the Islamic State (IS) is now contacting individual Turkish businessmen to call them back to Iraq:
Al-Monitor: The Islamic State is blocking Turkey’s exports to southern Iraq. Are you doing anything to overcome this?
Zeybekci: Of our exports, 70% is to the south of Iraq. We are trying multiple ways of overcoming this obstruction. We go south and follow the Iraqi-Iranian border but this adds significantly to costs, about $2,000 per truck.
Sometimes we enter Iran, then exit to Iraq. Turkish companies have signed major contracts in Iraq, promising to keep their shelves stocked. Our exports to Iraq are now down to 35% but Iraq cannot easily substitute other sources.
We think there will be a boom in demand soon. We also know that IS is contacting individual Turkish businessmen and telling them, “Come back, we won’t interfere.” That is not easy, of course. But when in the future Iraq is rebuilt, it will be Turkey doing it.