Prosperity Depends On Geopolitics...And Two Fabled Rivers

The bubble burst six years ago for the Mediterranean port of Iskenderun, when the U.N. slapped a trade embargo on Iraq for invading Kuwait. The sanctions came "like a kick in the stomach" to Turkey's closest major port to Iraq, says shipping agent Turgay Vural. During the 1980s, when the harbor bustled with outgoing tankers and incoming freighters carrying Iraq-bound cargoes, trade with Baghdad pumped an estimated $450 million per year into the local economy. This has shrunk to about $15 million--because of limits on necessities that Turkey can sell to Iraq. "We haven't had sweet days around here for a long time," says Vural.

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