How they see us: Turkey’s fury at U.S. sanctions
The crisis in U.S.-Turkish relations has reached an “unprecedented” level, said the Daily Sabah in an editorial, and all because President Trump will not let Turkish justice do its work. A U.S. evangelical pastor, Andrew Brunson, was arrested in the wake of the failed 2016 coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and charged with abetting terrorism. To force his summary release, Trump has hit Turkey with sanctions and huge tariffs—50 percent on steel and 20 percent on aluminum. That’s particularly galling given that Trump refuses to extradite Fethullah Gülen, the cleric behind the attempted coup, who is living in exile in Pennsylvania. Well, Turkey can’t be bullied. “Whether or not Trump continues to whine,” Brunson will remain in custody until he is convicted or cleared. In fact, if Brunson himself doesn’t want to be remembered as “the man who poisoned Washington’s relations with a key NATO ally,” he should urge his government to back off. In the meantime, “the crisis that Trump created has played right into the hands of Erdogan, who currently enjoys unprecedented popularity at home.”
Trump has poisoned the Turkish-U.S. relationship, said Ilnur Cevik, also in the Daily Sabah, and apparently all for electoral gain. We notice he hasn’t mentioned the other American held in Turkey, NASA scientist Serkan Golge, a dual citizen who was convicted of terrorism charges relating to the failed coup. Trump is demanding Brunson’s release because he is “after the Christian votes in the upcoming congressional elections.” Yet in waging economic warfare against Turkey and “trying to sabotage the Turkish lira,” Trump has engaged in “a blatant act of enmity.” Now, “deep in the hearts of every Turk, there is resentment and disappointment” that will linger for years.
Turkey can’t fight back through tariffs, said Yusuf Kanli in Hurriyet. The U.S. economy doesn’t need our trade. But the U.S. military relies on us. If Turkey “suspends all military procurements and stops defense industry cooperation,” and shuts down U.S. bases, then the U.S. will see “that Turkey is a country that cannot be sacrificed so easily.” Why should Turkey cooperate with “one of the cruelest empires in history”? asked Ibrahim Tigli in Yeni Safak. Turkey will seek other allies: Germany, France, Syria, and especially Russia. As President Erdogan says, “As long as we have faith, we have opportunity.”
Except that opportunity will soon be starkly curtailed, said Susanne Güsten in the Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany). The Turkish economy is imploding. The lira has already lost nearly 40 percent of its value against the dollar, and economists predict “company failures and layoffs” in the next few months. While Erdogan blames these fiscal woes on the U.S., “high corporate debt, a large foreign trade deficit, and rising inflation would have caused problems even without the Trump factor.” Turkey is facing “a real crisis.” ■