Ignoring US suggestions to end support of Hamas, stop attacks on Netanyahu & Israel, stop attacking Kurds who’ve allied with the U.S., respect US sanctions on Iran, and now refusing to release Pastor Brunson from incarceration have led the Turkish lira to lose over 40% of its value so far this year.
By i24NEWS – AFP
Turkey’s embattled lira on Thursday hit a new record low against the dollar as high-level talks seeking to slacken tensions between Ankara and Washington produced no apparent breakthrough between the two NATO allies.
The lira lost 2.0 percent to trade at 5.4 to the dollar and lost 2.2 percent against the euro to trade at 6.3, also a record low.
The latest punishment on markets came after a delegation led by Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal failed to secure a deal with Washington on a number of issues including the detention of US pastor Andrew Brunson which has caused a crisis in ties.
The two NATO allies have imposed reciprocal sanctions on two ministers on both sides, including an asset freeze, in a row over Turkey’s imprisonment on terror charges for almost two years of Brunson, who runs a small church in the Aegean city of Izmir.
The tensions have hit hard the already battered Turkish lira, which has lost over 40 percent of its value this year.
Neither Turkish nor US officials commented on the result of the talks on Wednesday with the State Department saying only Onal and Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan “discussed a range of bilateral matters including Pastor Brunson.”
But US media reports said Washington failed to secure assurances from Ankara to free the pastor, who currently remains under house arrest.
The Wall Street Journal, citing American officials, reported that US and Turkish officials were “unable to produce a breakthrough”, raising fears Washington could take tougher punitive actions unless the standoff is resolved.
Brunson was detained in October 2016 on charges of terror and espionage, and if convicted, could face a jail term of 35 years. US President Donald Trump has described his detention as a “total disgrace” and urged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to free him.
London-based Capital Economics said in a note that Turkish markets fell after the talks in Washington, which meant “US sanctions are likely to remain in place or even tighten”.
It said it remained uncertain how the sanctions would develop but “Our best guess is that Turkey’s important strategic position means that cooler heads and common sense will ultimately prevail.”
A number of incidents have strained the ties between the two NATO allies, including the opposition by US Senators to deliver F-35 fighter jets to Turkey.
Launched in the early 1990s, the F-35 is considered the most expensive weapons system in US history, with an estimated cost of some $400 billion and a goal to produce 2,500 aircraft in the coming years.
Israel is currently the only country in the Middle East which has F-35 fighter jets. Last month, the head of Israel’s Air Force, Amiram Norkin, stated that Israel is the first country in the region to make use of the stealth fighter.
US President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem last month outraged Ankara, which led to an emergency meeting with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) hosted by Turkey’s President Erdogan.
Turkey often defends Palestinians on the international scene, calling Israel a “terror state” due to its conduct in Gaza against Hamas.
The US on the other hand defends Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas’ violence, vetoing UN resolutions against the Jewish state.
In Syria, the US and Turkey have long been at loggerheads over US support of the Syrian Kurds, whom Turkey are fighting against.
Then, Erdogan’s sworn enemy, Fethulalh Gulen, whom he accused of being behind the attempt to overthrow his government in July 2016, is currently residing in the US.
Lastly, Turkey remains committed to Iranian gas supply deals and will continue to buy natural gas from the Islamic Republic despite the re-imposition of US sanctions.
Turkish energy minister Fatih Donmez told Turkish broadcaster A Haber that Ankara holds a long-term supply agreement with Tehran that is to remain in effect until 2026.
Trump warned US trade partners via Twitter Tuesday that “anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States.”
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