“US Risks Completely Losing Turkey”: Erdogan Vows To Defy US “Threats” Over Pastor Brunson

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hit back Saturday at US “threats” over detained American pastor Brunson which has escalated tensions between the two NATO allies, sent the Turkish currency into a historic nosedive on Friday and crashed Turkish capital markets.

It is wrong to dare bring Turkey to its knees through threats over a pastor,” Erdogan lashed out during a rally in the Black Sea town of Unye.

“I am calling on those in America again. Shame on you, shame on you. You are exchanging your strategic partner in NATO for a priest.

“They are threatening us. You cannot tame our people with threats” but perhaps a collapse in the stock market will suffice: the Turkish lira crashed as much as 20% against the dollar on Friday, its biggest drop on record, after President Trump announced he would double steel and aluminium tariffs on Turkey, adding to pressure to Turkey’s troubled economy. The White House has said the newly-imposed sanctions would take effect from August 13.

Turkey remains at an impasse with the United States in one of the worst diplomatic spats in years over the nearly two-year detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson and a host of other issues. But Erdogan urged Turks not to be panicked by the currency crisis, saying on Friday that “if they have the dollar, we have Allah.”

He also advised them to show solidarity by converting any stashed-away gold or foreign currency to Turkish lira in a bid to wage a “war of independence” against America.

Commenting on the possibility of Brunson’s release, Erdogan said Turkey will act in accordance with the law, saying: “We have not made concessions on justice so far, and we will never make any.”

And he brushed off the issue of tariffs: “They say we will not give this or that. Don’t give. What we have is enough for us.”

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Separately, on Saturday a spokesman for Erdogan, Ibrahim Kalin, wrote an Op-Ed in the Daily Sabah newspaper titled “Turkey’s Resolve” in which he warned that “the U.S. runs the risk of losing Turkey as a whole” and said that “the entire Turkish public is against U.S. policies that disregard Turkey’s legitimate security demands. Threats, sanctions and bullying against Turkey will not work. It will only increase Turkey’s resolve. But it will also further isolate the U.S. in both Turkey and on the international scene.”

The Trump administration has already picked fights with Canada, Mexico, Cuba, China, Russia, NATO, Germany and other countries for mostly domestic reasons. This has only damaged the credibility of the U.S. as a reliable partner and ally. The perception is not any different in Turkey.

He also hinted that as the US cracks down on Turkey, the country will seek out other strategic alliances with countries and “will also continue to diversify its energy sources and financial alternatives. This is only natural given Turkey’s geopolitical standing and the realities of 21st century diplomacy.”

As Turkey expands its foreign policy outlook, it will not give up on its independence and sovereignty. It will continue to develop relations with all countries based on equality, mutual interest and partnership. It will also continue to diversify its energy sources and financial alternatives. This is only natural given Turkey’s geopolitical standing and the realities of 21st century diplomacy.

Naturally, such an appeal to nationalist emotions was to be expected, as was Turkey’s continued defiance. But the question remains: how much longer can the Turkish people, and its government, continue to pretend nothing has changed even as inflation soars, the currency crumbles, and the economy grinds to a halt.

The full Op-Ed is below (link):

Turkey’s resolve

When the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) members launched a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, many international commentators predicted a total collapse of the Turkish state and the economy. But Turkey grew stronger out of this dark day and continued on its path of political stability and economic development. Two years later, the crisis with the Trump administration over a pastor and the fluctuations in the currency market will not diminish Turkey’s resolve.

The June 24 elections, where more than 50 millions Turkish voters went to the polls, gave President Erdoğan another mandate for the next five years. The election results were also a confirmation of the new presidential system which will lessen bureaucracy and increase efficient governance. Last week, President Erdoğan announced the 100-day action plan for ongoing and new projects. Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak will announce the midterm economic plan and set new goals for the Turkish economy. On Oct. 29, the new mega airport in Istanbul will be opened. The number of tourists visiting Turkey this year are expected to reach nearly 40 million. Major public projects continue as planned. All this shows the resilience of Turkish state institutions and the economy.

Having said that, it is also a fact that the Turkish lira losing value against the U.S. dollar is a challenge. But it is a challenge Turkey is ready to confront. The issue, however, is larger than just a currency war. The Trump administration’s decision to sanction two Turkish ministers over the issue of pastor Brunson, who is under house arrest in Turkey on terrorism-related charges, has set a new low in Turkish-U.S. relations. Efforts by the Turkish side to resolve this issue through diplomatic channels has been rejected by the U.S. side. Turkey’s good intentions and result-oriented approaches have been sidelined by the ideological attitudes and the “my way or high way” approach of the Trump White House.

Turkey is right to demand that its security concerns be taken seriously by its NATO ally. But instead, the U.S. government, under both Obama and Trump, has done practically nothing to address Turkey’s objections in regards to U.S. engagement with the PKK’s Syria branch – the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) –and the presence of the FETÖ network in the U.S. Neither the fight against Daesh nor the U.S. system can be an excuse to justify policies and attitudes that hurt Turkey’s national security interests and harm Turkish-U.S. relations.

The U.S. runs the risk of losing Turkey as a whole. The entire Turkish public is against U.S. policies that disregard Turkey’s legitimate security demands. Threats, sanctions and bullying against Turkey will not work. It will only increase Turkey’s resolve. But it will also further isolate the U.S. in both Turkey and on the international scene. The Trump administration has already picked fights with Canada, Mexico, Cuba, China, Russia, NATO, Germany and other countries for mostly domestic reasons. This has only damaged the credibility of the U.S. as a reliable partner and ally. The perception is not any different in Turkey.

Turkey will not give in to threats, pressures, sanctions or financial operations against its currency and financial markets. It will not put others’ demands over its own security demands. As a NATO ally, it has done more than its share to provide security for all. It has stood by its allies against all forms of terrorism. It has cooperated with them to eliminate terrorist threats against their countries. It is only natural that it demands its allies to reciprocate. Yet its allies have done little or nothing to help Turkey in its fight against the PKK and FETÖ terrorist groups.

As Turkey expands its foreign policy outlook, it will not give up on its independence and sovereignty. It will continue to develop relations with all countries based on equality, mutual interest and partnership. It will also continue to diversify its energy sources and financial alternatives. This is only natural given Turkey’s geopolitical standing and the realities of 21st century diplomacy.

Having seen military coups, terrorist attacks and financial operations, Turkey has only strengthened its resolve and resilience. No threats or attacks will change that.

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Author: Tyler Durden