Home Global Village An alleged spy stirs trade war between Turkey and U.S.

An alleged spy stirs trade war between Turkey and U.S.

The Trump administration's threats to issue economic sanctions against Turkey. Tensions, between the two countries, escalated after Turkey detained US Pastor Andrew Brunson, an alleged spy.  

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News Analysis |

After calling President Recep Tayyip  Erdogan to intervene into the matter, when a Turkish court ordered to keep the Turkey-based US pastor Andrew Brunson detained, United States of America has threatened to impose sanctions if the pastor is not released.

who is Andrew Brunson

Turkey claims US Pastor Andrew Brunson is a US spy who attempted to overthrow the government during a 2016 coup attempt. After being arrested in October 2016, Brunson was was formally indicted on charges of espionage and having links to terrorist organizations. The pastor will have to face 35 years in prison if convicted. Whereas the US Government insists that Brunson is an innocent man being targeted because of his Christian beliefs.

Vice President Mike Pence said on Thursday that if Turkey does not take immediate action to free Andrew Craig Brunson, “the United States of America will impose significant sanctions on Turkey”. “Brunson is an innocent man, there is no credible evidence against him,” Pence said. The demand was answered back by Turkey’s furious foreign minister who said that no one can dictate Turkey. He said that Turkey will never tolerate threats from anybody.

Turkish government believes Golan to be the key conspirator and has repeatedly asked the United States to extradite him where he has the status of a “Permanent Resident”.

Brunson is one of the few Americans, along with thousands of Turkish nationals, held under the trial of being the conspirators or facilitators of a failed coup attempt on July 16, 2016. After the event, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered as massive purge into the government institutions to root out all those who were sympathizers of FETO, a US-based Turkish religious preacher Fetullah Golan’s organization. Turkish government believes Golan to be the key conspirator and has repeatedly asked the United States to extradite him where he has the status of a “Permanent Resident”. The USA has maintained that the matter is subjudice and only the courts will decide the fate.

After the verdict of Turkish court against the US pastor Andrew Brunson, Reuters quoted a US official in Washington that the United States is now seriously considering the extradition as there is too much at stake between the two countries already. It presented a hope that among many discords between the USA and Turkey, this one will be resolved soon. Days after the verdict, Pastor Andrew Brunson was moved into a house arrest after spending 20 months in jail. All these signs contributed to the understanding that there could be a chance of Golan’s extradition in exchange of Brunson’s release. But the recent statement from US vice president has apparently swept all the efforts under the carpet.

Read more: US creates rift among Russia, Turkey and Iran

It remains absurd that one hand the United States is asking Turkey to wait for the judicial system of the country decide Golan’s fate but on the other hand, urging Erdogan to supersede the law of Turkey and order the release of Andrew Brunson. As per the New York Times, there are dozens of Americans detained in Turkey on the charges of conspiracy, but the United States seems particularly worried about Andrew Brunson, making it look dubious. Right now both USA and Turkey are having a difference on multiple issues like United States’ policy in Syria and Turkey’s close defense ties with Russia but the United States is willing to sabotage it all for one person. And the issue was seemingly close to getting resolved sooner as the signs were predicting.

Turkey’s economy is not in the best of shapes these days. If the United States moves on from mere words to action and imposes economic sanctions, it could really be disastrous for Turkish economy and Lira, the Turkish currency which is already devaluing, could face a further downfall. For now, just the threat of sanctions has resulted in the downturn for the financial market in Turkey. United States has already planned to block the sale of 5th generation stealth F-35 fighter jets, a bill which needs to be passed from both the houses before landing on President’s desk.

Kurd’s have served as the US proxy in Syria in the fight against the ISIS and it also speculated that the US has established its military bases in Syrian Kurdistan for a long-term objective.

As the government forces in Syria are closing in, the autonomy of the Kurdish region in Syria is threatened by the Assad’s progress. Kurd’s, which Turkey sees a threat for its own national security, are looking toward the USA to help them out in the current situation. Kurd’s have served as the US proxy in Syria in the fight against the ISIS and it also speculated that the US has established its military bases in Syrian Kurdistan for a long-term objective. Therefore, the threat of sanctions could also mean an indirect pressure on Turkey to abandon operation Olive Branch against the Kurd’s initiated by Turkish military since January 2018.

Read more: Turkey-US tensions beef up following Erdogan’s victory

Right now the relations between the two NATO allies are in disarray and with no silver lining on the sky in sight and apparently, it is a lose-lose situation for both countries. For Turkey, it is the fragile economy and for the US the long-term strategic assets are at risk.


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