No, the title is not a joke. Trump has established US economic sanctions against Turkey at time when the Turkish Lira is plummeting:
President Donald Trump said Friday he is greenlighting a doubling of steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey and warned that US relations with the country “are not good at this time.”
The moves stem from Trump’s frustration over a detained American pastor held by Turkey on what US officials say are bogus charges, two sources with knowledge of the President’s mind-set tell CNN.
“I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!” the President tweeted.
In a statement, deputy White House press secretary Lindsay Walters said, “Section 232 tariffs are imposed on imports from particular countries whose exports threaten to impair national security as defined in Section 232, independent of negotiations on trade or any other matter.”
Walters did not offer any explanation as to how US national security is threatened by steel and aluminum imports from Turkey, which hosts a major US military base.
Trump’s announcement Friday could further escalate tensions with Turkey, continuing the steady downward spiral of US relations with Ankara, which has been driven by a slew of factors. Andrew Brunson, a 50-year-old evangelical Presbyterian from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than 23 years, has become the face of the US-Turkey friction
Turkey has accused Brunson of helping to plot a 2016 coup attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. US officials maintain there is no credible evidence against Brunson, and the Trump administration has negotiated for weeks to secure his release.
Erdogan alluded Friday to “those who wage economic war on us” and told Turks to exchange their dollars and euros for Turkish lira.
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin took to twitter Friday to voice Turkey’s strong will against any threats.
“No threat, blackmail or operation can discourage the will of Turkey,” he wrote on his official Twitter account hours after Trump announced the additional tariffs.
Attached to the tweet was an image and quote from Erdogan saying those who assumed that Turkey would bow down before economic manipulations do not know the Turkish nation.
Kalin also said those who thought everything was over after the defeated coup in July 2016 were wrong then and will be wrong again, adding, “Turkey will win this fight as well.”
“This is just another example of the almost Shakespearian drama that has unfolded between US and Turkey since 2016,” said Nick Heras, a Middle East expert at the Center for a New American Security.
“There is a real sentiment within the pro-Erdogan camp that the US was covertly a backer of the 2016 coup against Erdogan.”
Earlier this month, the United States slapped sanctions against Turkey’s ministers of justice and interior in response to Brunson’s detention. Since then, talks over Brunson’s release have broken down. A week ago, Turkey ordered that the assets of the US “justice and interior” secretaries would be frozen.
National Security Council and State Department officials continued to go back and forth with their Turkish counterparts this week, but nothing has been resolved, an official told CNN. Before the President’s trip to Europe last month, officials said they believed they were close to securing Brunson’s release.
“This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!” Trump wrote on Twitter late last month.
Also in July, Brunson was moved from jail to house arrest after being held for more than a year and a half.
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have had conversations with officials in the Turkish government regarding Brunson, according to an administration official, and Trump and Erodgan discussed Brunson during a call in mid-June. The White House never issued a readout of the call but confirmed it after the Turkish government disclosed details. It’s unclear if the two leaders have spoken since.
On Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said US officials had held a “wide-ranging conversation” with their Turkish counterparts this week.
“We made it clear that Pastor Brunson needs to be returned home. … The progress that we want to be made is to have Pastor Brunson return home. And I’ll leave it at that,” she said.
Trump’s tariff announcement comes in the midst of a currency slump in Turkey. The value of the lira has plummeted against the dollar, which Trump pointed out in his tweet on Friday, saying the Turkish currency is sliding “rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar!”
Tensions in the Turkey-US relationship have been steadily ratcheting up, even as the NATO allies cooperate on other fronts, perhaps most importantly coordinating over the US air base in Incirlik, Turkey.
Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said work at the base continues and that the US-Turkey military relationship remains intact.
“We continue to carry out our important mission at Incirlik, and maintain a strong, mil-to-mil relationship with our Turkish counterparts,” Pahon told CNN. “We continue to cooperate on key regional defense issues with our NATO ally.”
Heras, the Mideast expert, said, “Incirlik has always sort of been entangled in this situation, viewed by Erdogan backers and Erdogan himself as a chip in a game. At the officer-to-officer level … relationships are as good as they can be given the circumstances. However, the politics between the US, under two administrations, and the Erdogan government are becoming more and more poisonous — and this is where it becomes more dangerous.”
Heras said any Turkish action against US service members based at Incirlik or a concerted effort to halt counter-ISIS operations from there would be the type of hand Erdogan would play only if he “decides the situation has gone so far that he needs to throw a big move in Trump’s face.”
Other issues have eroded support for Turkey in the United States. Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian tendencies and suspected human rights abuses have alienated lawmakers in Congress.
Erdogan, in an op-ed dated Friday in The New York Times, decried US actions toward Turkey and warned that the future of their decades-long “shoulder to shoulder” alliance could be in peril.
He argued that Turkey has come to the aid of the United States over the years, citing deployment of its troops during the Korean War and the NATO-led fight against terror in Afghanistan.
But in recent years, he said, “our partnership has been tested by disagreements.”
Erdogan criticized the United States over its actions in the Brunson affair, its reaction to the coup attempt two years ago and its alliance with the People’s Protection Units, or the YPG, the fighting group in Syria that the Turkish leader asserts is a branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, labeled a terror group by the United States.
“Unless the United States starts respecting Turkey’s sovereignty and proves that it understands the dangers that our nation faces, our partnership could be in jeopardy,” Erdogan said.
“Before it is too late, Washington must give up the misguided notion that our relationship can be asymmetrical and come to terms with the fact that Turkey has alternatives. Failure to reverse this trend of unilateralism and disrespect will require us to start looking for new friends and allies.”
The Turkish leader’s cooperation with Iran and Russia in Syria has also left US foreign policy officials uneasy, as has his decision to buy Russia’s surface-to-air S-400 missiles, which are not compatible with NATO allies’ systems.
Erdogan has been deeply angry about the slow US response to the coup attempt against him. Turkey has accused Fethullah Gulen, a cleric who lives in exile in Pennsylvania, in the attempt, and it has repeatedly tried to get him back and put him on trial.
US support for Kurds in Syria who are combating ISIS has also deeply angered Erdogan. The Syrian Kurdish group the YPG is a core element of the US-backed alliance fighting the militants, but Erdogan sees it as a security threat.
In 2017, the Turkish leader went so far as to threaten the United States with an “Ottoman slap” if it tried to block a Turkish military incursion into Syria.
Turkey has also been concerned about the fallout of Trump’s decision to leave the Iran nuclear deal and to sanction those who continue to do business with Tehran. A significant portion of Turkey’s oil imports come from Iran. When the United States reimposes sanctions on Iranian energy exports in November, Turkey’s already suffering economy could take another blow. (source)
Erdogan could not have asked for a better gift from Trump at the current time.
So how could economic sanction and a declining currency be a blessing to Erdogan, when as the ruler of Turkey, he is supposed to protect the nation against such things from happening?
The events of today will not make sense unless on understands the last century of Turco-American geopolitics. The Germans are historical allies of the Turks going back to Byzantine times, and the US and UK both have used Turkey as a force against Russians in the last two centuries. In a geopolitical sense, nothing has changed since then. After the American victory in World War II, the USA, having rebuilt Western Germany with the UK and France, initiated a program to create a series of regional armies and militias in order to serves as a hedge against a potential Soviet invasion of continental Europe. This program was called Operation Gladio, and part of the programs many facets included Germany and the US building up Turkey into a major military power in order that as a historical enemy of Russia, she would serve as a “counter balance” in the Balkan and Caucasus regions.
No words of any president or government official are going to change the state of US-Turkish relations. There is too much money being made through the companies selling weapons and technology to Turkey, who effectively control the government of the USA through their owners in finance. What will chance is the appearance of conflict when it is politically expedient to do so.
Remember in 2016, there was a major rift between Turkey and Germany over the refugee non-crisis. To summarize, Germany blamed Turkey for refusing to help, and Turkey said Germany was involved in an anti-Turkish conspiracy. The Washington Post said that Germany and Turkey were about to have a “breakup” over the issue:
Turkey and Germany are, nominally, friends.
But if you take even a cursory look at the way the two have been behaving lately, you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise.
Over the past few months, the two countries have been locked in an increasingly heated war of words and diplomatic slights. It culminated this week with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel interrupting his North Sea vacation to deliver a strongly worded statement promising to “reorient” the country’s Turkey policy. It’s not totally clear what that means, but step one is “new travel advisories” discouraging German citizens from visiting Turkey because of “risks.” If followed, this could be a big blow to Turkey’s travel industry — 4 million Germans visited the country in 2016, more than from any other country.
“The government and the coalition parties will be discussing further consequences,” Gabriel said, noting that financial sanctions were also being considered. Others have called for a cancellation of the deal between the European Union and Turkey on refugees. According to Der Spiegel, officials are also considering the suspension of German government loan guarantees for exports or investments in Turkey.
That statement came after Turkey arrested six human rights activists, including Peter Steudtner from Berlin. An Istanbul court ordered them into pretrial detention. German consulate officials say that they’ve been prohibited from speaking with the activist, a violation of international law. Steudtner is an Amnesty International representative, in Turkey for the first time at a conference. He was running a training on IT security and nonviolent conflict resolution when he was arrested.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned the decision as “absolutely unjustified,” saying “we declare our solidarity with him and all the others arrested. The German government will do all it can, on all levels, to secure his release.”
Eight other Germans are also in jail in Turkey awaiting trial, including a journalist. Experts suggest that the arrests are part of a larger effort to force Berlin to deport Turkish citizens in Germany whom Ankara considers terrorists. Germany houses some 3 million people of Turkish origin, including thousands who’ve applied for asylum since last year’s failed Turkish coup. In the aftermath, tens of thousands of people have been arrested and 100,000 have lost their jobs.
Turkey has accused Steudtner and others of plotting to commit acts of terrorism against the state. In reacting to Gabriel’s statement, they suggested that Germany is harboring terrorists of its own. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter that, “as a country providing shelter to PKK and FETO terrorists in its own territory, statements by Germany are just double standards and unacceptable.” (PKK stands for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and FETO is the Fethullah Terrorist Organization.) (source)
Germany and Turkey never had any breakup. They are just as much friends as they ever were. They only feigned the appearance of a breakup in order to manufacture an image to present to the public. There were no fundamental changes in their relationship.
The above story was from 2017. Now in August 2018, Germany and Turkey announced that Erdogan will pay a formal state visit to Germany with full honors to “improve relations”
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will pay a state visit to Germany on Sept. 28-29, a spokeswoman for German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Tuesday, amid efforts by the allies to improves ties strained by a number of disputes.
The two fellow members of the NATO military alliance have differed over Turkey’s crackdown on suspected opponents of Erdogan after a failed coup in 2016 and over its detention of German citizens.
The spokeswoman did not say if Erdogan would also hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel’s office declined to comment.
Germany’s mass-selling Bild newspaper reported last month that Erdogan would visit Germany around late September.
A state visit would include a reception by Steinmeier with military honors and a formal state banquet. The German and Turkish foreign ministers vowed earlier this year to do everything to improve relations. (source)
Under the Trump administration, many people have lauded him for taking a “tough” stance with other nations.
German businesses are reporting they are suffering from a loss of US business due to the tarriffs. The German government has warned that US sanctions against Iran being foised upon Germany could “cause chaos”. Germany increasingly believes that she has to “go alone” in Europe to look after her own “interests.”
Following the strain in US-Turkish relations allegedly caused by the Brunson affair, Turkey has said that relations with the USA are at a low point and the US risks losing Turkey altogether as an ally. Turkey has said they want dialogue,
This comes at a time when the Turkish Lira is crashing against the dollar and Turkish banks are in trouble as what some call a “perfect storm” is happening in spite of Erdogan’s promise to grow Turkey’s economy.
Erdogan has declared what is happening in Turkey is an “economic war” and that he would fight it. Trump has responded by promising to double tarriffs on Turkey.Neither Trump nor Erdogan are helping the situation. Both are aggravating the situation before the entire world to see.
Ask yourself, would the USA give up a major ally in a key geopolitical region that she has built into a world-class military over decades for some American “pastor” whose credientials and past history are questionable? This is the same USA whose actions destroyed the ancient Christian community of Iraq, which prior to the American incursion was over 1 million strong, and now after 15 years is more than 90% depleted and likely will not return.
The Brunson affair has been an ideal excuse for Trump to start a fight with Erdogan and to escalate it into a public spat between the US and Turkey. Trump did a similar action in Germany with Angela Merkel in July 2018, where he publicly insulted her in her own nation, calling her a “puppet” of Russia.
Look at the timeline:
July 2018- Trump angers and insults Germany, damages US-German relations
August 2018- Trump angers and insults Turkey, damages US-Turkish relations
September 2018- Germany and Turkey schedule meeting to discussing repairing relations with each other.
Remember, Germany and Turkey are historical military allies of each other going back to the Islamic conquests, and before that back to the times of the Ostrogoths and Byzantines to attack the Western world.
Trump’s actions are giving Germany and Turkey an excuse to come and work together as allies, first with economic partnerships, and building upon this naturally to give way to “security cooperation”, meaning military partnerships.
Russia is still the enemy of Germany, Turkey, and the USA.
If a conflict were to start between any one of these nations and Russia, it could potentially draw the other two in. If Germany and Turkey aggressively build economic ties, then a conflict with either Germany or Turkey will absolutely pull the other nation in, and then the USA too.
It would be difficult for Germany or the USA to start conflict with Russia. Both nations have antagonized her, but Russia has restrained herself well. It may be far easier to start a fight using Turkey because of the growing Turkish influence into Central Asia that is threatening Russia’s power that area and parts of Siberia. The US has already been trying to antagonize the Turkic peoples of Siberia and Central Asia by promoting Islam and native nationalism, and if a conflict started between Turkey and Russia she would support Turkey. The fact that all of this is coming at a time when Germany is debating the return of the draft and seeking nuclear weapons as well as the Turkish military is pushing for greater economic expansion and working with Germany to build a massive railway system into Central Asia is a warning that both nations are preparing for war.
It will be interesting to see what resolutions come out of next month’s Germany-Turkey summit and how both nations respond in the future months. Far from Making America Great Again, Trump’s actions have given Germany an excuse to Make Germany A Reich Again, and Turkey an excuse to Make Turkey Ottoman Again.