Extracts from an opinion piece by Murat Yetkin
Does the U.S. president really, sincerely think the actions and sanctions against Turkey will work? They did not work against Iraq in the 1990s. Iraq could be put down through military action. They did not work in the 2000s against Russia, who even grew strong enough to influence the U.S. elections.
It is something favorable if Turkey and the U.S. are on good terms, with better cooperation and mutual respect, but . . . Turkey does not owe its existence to the U.S. and will not cease to exist without it.
Trump’s actions and sanctions on the Turkish economy . . . not only have had a rally-around-the-flag effect (as anyone who has read a bit of political history would guess) but have also told the Turkish people they have friends around the world who care for them.
Be it in their own interest or by seizing an opportunity to say something against Trump’s policies, which bother many economies from China to the European Union, voices have been raised by those who have taken a stand with Turkey. Before this currency crisis, there were only a few of them; Azerbaijan and Qatar . . . the most loyal of them.
However, right after Trump started to use American economic power as a political tool against Turkey, not only Russia, Iran and China have chosen to speak out against the U.S., but European NATO allies like Germany and Italy have also started to lobby for Turkey.
Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani paid a snap visit to the Turkish capital on Aug. 15 for talks with Erdoğan after a phone exchange the two men held late Aug. 13. Bilateral relations and regional developments were discussed in the working lunch that took more than three hours. The Emir pledged a direct investment worth $15 billion to Turkey, a presidential source said.
“We attach importance to his visit. This visit, at the same time, is an indicator that Qatar stands with Turkey,” Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın told reporters at a press conference on Aug. 15.
In a written statement, on the day Emir al-Thani paid a visit to Ankara, Qatar’s Ambassador to Turkey Saleem Mubarak al-Shafi reiterated his country’s support to the Turkish government.
“Just like during the defeated coup attempt in 2016, Qatar is the first country rushing to help its Turkish brothers and we will continue to stand with them,” the ambassador said. Underlining that his country has already expressed that it was ready to assist Turkey in this period, al-Shafi informed that the Qatari people have bought liras worth millions of dollars in direct support to the Turkish economy.
Turkey and Qatar enjoy a unique relationship in the region. Turkey, which has a military base in Qatar, rushed supplies to the Gulf state after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a boycott in 2017.
Erdoğan spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the late afternoon on Aug. 15, after the latter has openly backed Turkey in its row with the U.S. that brought about political and economic sanctions. He will talk to French President Emmanuel Macron on Aug. 16, another European heavyweight.
“All these indicate there is a growing reaction in Europe against Trump administration’s restrictive and punitive economic policies. We are of the opinion that this marks an important point,” Kalın said.
European countries have expressed concerns and reactions over Trump’s harsh measures on Turkey on the grounds that it could also hit the global economic structure, particularly Europe, which has extensive economic cooperation with Turkey.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said, “In fact, all these incidents have opened the world’s eyes. They have seen once again how the current American administration can disrespectfully use its economic power against countries,” Çavuşoğlu said.
Turkey’s disappointment regarding the Trump administration’s stance is much deeper because it has not taken into account its ally’s national security concerns, the Turkish government has said in response to a statement from a White House official that United States President Donald Trump is frustrated Turkey has not released pastor Andrew Brunson.
“The president has a great deal of frustration on the fact that pastor Brunson has not been released as well as the fact that other U.S. citizens and employees of diplomatic facilities have not been released,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders in a statement on Aug. 14.
“The U.S. or any other country should not just focus on their own frustrations. They should also take into account our frustrations [with regard to their policies]. We also have frustrations,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters on Aug. 15 in response to a question on Sanders’ statement.
For Çavuşoğlu, the U.S. decision to ally with the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, a group Ankara considers as terrorist, and to arm them, is a bigger source of disappointment for Turkey.
The U.S. inaction on Turkey’s extradition request for Fethullah Gülen, the leader of the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ), who Ankara blames for the coup attempt in July 2016, is another source of frustration for Turkey, he said.
“Now, they are even trying to protect FETÖ members in third countries. Why do they support them? Because they love traitors or because they love Turks, Muslims? We only tell the truth and say what we see. You should not just see it from your perspective,” Çavuşoğlu said.
The minister called on the U.S. to respect the judicial processes and to put an end to the idea that their objectives could be achieved by pressure or punitive actions.
In the meantime, both Çavuşoğlu and Kalın explained the signing of the Pentagon bill delaying the transfer of F-35 aircraft to Turkey for 90 days should not be considered as a sanction.
“Turkey is not just purchasing F-35s but a part of this project. It made its payments for the project. Turkey will have to resort to legal action if these aircraft are not delivered. We hope this will not happen,” Kalın said.
“Our advice to the U.S. is not to use these as a tool. This seriously tarnishes U.S. credibility. No country in the world is without alternatives and helpless. Every nation is honorable and needs to be respected,” he said.