US Threatens More Sanctions, Keeping Alive Turkish Crisis

Ivan Schwartz
August 18, 2018

A Trump administration official told the Associated Press Thursday that National Security Adviser John Bolton spoke Monday with the Turkish ambassador to the US telling him to release Brunson.

Dashing hopes for a quick solution to the dispute, a Turkish court on Friday rejected an appeal for the evangelical pastor's release from house detention.

The United States and Turkey have exchanged tit-for-tat tariffs in an escalating attempt by Mr Trump to induce Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan into giving up Mr Brunson, who denies charges that he was involved in a coup attempt against Mr Erdogan two years ago.

On August 11, Trump said he had doubled import tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum, sending the Turkish lira into a tailspin and prompting Ankara to impose countersanctions on some USA products including rice, vehicles, alcohol, coal, and cosmetics. "He's not a spy".

Turkey retaliated with some $533 million of tariffs on some US imports - including cars, tobacco and alcoholic drinks - and said it would boycott USA electronic goods, singling out iPhones. "We'll see what happens". "We are not going to take it sitting down", Trump said. His transfer to house arrest came after Trump asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to assist in Brunson's release, Israeli and U.S. officials told CNN at the time.

Many countries had been the target of similar United States trade measures, Albayrak said, and Turkey would navigate this period with other parties such as Germany, Russia and China.

However, they also noted that global bonds were annualizing their worst price return since 1999, 11 of 21 commodity markets had experienced bear markets, and 1,254 constituents of MSCI's All-Country World Index out of a total of 2,273 were in bear territory.

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Over 160,000 people, including some Americans, have been detained after the government charged them with helping orchestrate the same coup, according to the UN.

One currency trader said Friday's lira weakness was driven by "the new US sanctions threat and the S&P decision, with position-closing in markets ahead of the public holiday".

The lira had nosedived in recent weeks, hitting a record low of 7.24 this week, as investors anxious about fundamental economic problems in the country and a diplomatic and trade dispute with the United States.

While I remain hopeful for the expeditious release of Pastor Andrew, let me be clear that we fully support the President's action in refusing to pay a ransom to Turkey - a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally - for the release of an innocent man.

He also urged Brunson to serve as a "great patriot hostage" while he is jailed and criticized Turkey for "holding our wonderful Christian Pastor".

Economists gave Albayrak's presentation a qualified welcome and the lira initially found some support, helped by Qatar's pledge to invest $15 billion in Turkey.

The United States has repeatedly demanded the release of Brunson from Turkish authorities, while Ankara has said that the U.S.' demands are not in line with principles of an independent judiciary and that it is the courts who will make the ultimate decision.

Other reports by GizPress

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