Europe should react to US sanctions targeting Turkey, China, Russia: German FM

Germany’s foreign minister on Aug. 27 criticized U.S. President Donald Trump for imposing sanctions against trade partners like Turkey, China and Russia.

Heiko MaasSpeaking at the annual Ambassadors’ Conference in Berlin, Heiko Maas vowed to take measures to protect European firms from such unilateral sanctions.

“Washington’s sanctions policy forces us Europeans to formulate a response. Because it is affecting us, Germany and Europe, when the U.S. abruptly and unilaterally imposing often unspecified sanctions against Russia, China, Turkey and maybe in the future against our other important trading partners,” he stressed.

Maas argued that the European Union member states should take joint steps against the U.S. dominance in global finance, and proposed a European alternative to the U.S.-dominated SWIFT payment system.

“We have to further strengthen the autonomy and sovereignty of Europe in the fields of trade, economy and finance policies,” he stressed.

“It’s not going to be easy but we have already started working on it. We are working on proposals to establish independent payment channels and creating a European Monetary Fund,” he added.

Maas is scheduled to visit Turkey next month to discuss bilateral ties and regional issues.

During his two-day visit on Sept. 5-6, Heiko Maas is expected to meet his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and other senior officials in the capital Ankara.

Later the two top diplomats will travel to Istanbul for a celebration at the city’s German School marking its 150th anniversary.

Maas’ trip to Turkey comes ahead of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s key visit to Germany on Sept. 28-29.

Over the past two years political relations between Ankara and Berlin have suffered setbacks, but in recent months both sides have taken steps towards improving ties.

EU heavyweight Germany remains Turkey’s main economic and trade partner, despite political disagreements between the governments on a number of issues.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/europe-should-react-to-us-sanctions-targeting-turkey-china-turkey-german-fm-136189

http://english.almanar.com.lb/568742

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Is Germany threatening the United States? Wow!

Germany’s Foreign Minister: When the U.S. ‘Crosses the Line,’ Europe Must Act

Europe should scale up military spending in order to act as a counterpoint to an unpredictable and unreliable United States, the German foreign minister said in an op-ed Wednesday, an unusually forthright criticism of U.S. foreign policy by a senior political figure in Europe.

Heiko Maas

German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas

In the German newspaper Handelsblatt entitled “A New World Order,” Heiko Maas said that Europe and the U.S. have been drifting apart for years. Instead of waiting for Trump’s presidency to end, he argued, Europe should take an “equal share of responsibility” globally.

Yet Maas joined in agreement with Trump in demanding NATO members increase their defense spending. “It is in our own interest to strengthen the European part of the North Atlantic Alliance,” he wrote. However, he continued, this was “not because Donald Trump is always setting new percentage targets, but because we can no longer rely on Washington to the same extent.”

Increased defense spending, he said, would secure Europe’s position as a global power. “Where the USA crosses the line, we Europeans must form a counterweight — as difficult as that can be,” he wrote. “That is also what balance is about.”

Maas also used strong language on Iran. On Aug. 6, the U.S. reimposed sanctions on Iran following Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal, of which Germany was also a signatory. The new sanctions threaten to hurt European businesses.

“We will not allow [Washington] to go over our heads, and at our expense,” Maas wrote. “Every day that the Iran agreement lasts, is better than the potentially explosive crisis that threatens the Middle East otherwise.” More sanctions, on Iran’s oil industry, are set to come into force on Nov. 5.

Maas’s comments go even further than Chancellor Angela Merkel’s remarks in May 2017 about the unreliability of its traditional Western allies. “The times in which [Germany] could fully rely on others are partly over,” Merkel said. “We Europeans really have to take our destiny into our own hands.”

Source: Time

Open admission of US guilt!

Do you need further evidence that the “money markets”, transnational bankers and financiers, and the “credit agencies” are in cahoots with the United States Government, and vice versa?

US-Turkey crisis could end “instantly” if pastor freed: Bolton

Turkey could end the crisis with the United States “instantly” by freeing a detained American pastor, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said, adding that a Qatari cash infusion would not help Ankara’s economy.

John Bolton

Do you REALLY want me to say that, Don?

“Look, the Turkish government made a big mistake in not releasing Pastor Brunson,” Bolton told Reuters in an interview during a visit to Israel.

“Every day that goes by that mistake continues, this crisis could be over instantly if they did the right thing as a NATO ally, part of the West, and release pastor Brunson without condition.”

Qatar’s Emir this month approved a package of economic projects, including a $15 billion pledge of support, for Turkey, giving a boost to a lira that has lost some 37 percent of its value this year.

Bolton was skeptical about the intervention by the Gulf state, which has been feuding with U.S. allies in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

“Well, I think what they pledged is utterly insufficient to have an impact on Turkey’s economy. It’s certainly not helpful but we’ll actually see what develops from their pledge,” he said.

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So, either the US Government ordered the financiers to punish Turkey, or more likely, the financiers ordered the government. And it’s not just Turkey! In the past, however, the US would deny responsibility, and blame the target country’s inefficient management etc – which, of course, they are still trying to do. The importance of Turkey for the world, in terms of democracy and national sovereignty, is that they are forcing out into the open what the United States is doing – and has been doing for decades!

It is also clear that the US Government does not want the Brunson case to come to court in Turkey. Why not? Are they afraid that his connections with the CIA will become public knowledge?

And furthermore, the Trump administration seems to be calling for Turkey’s government to interfere in the judicial process. Isn’t that one of the things that Turkey is being criticised for?

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Bolton remarks proof US targeting Turkey in economic war

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s spokesperson said on Aug. 22 remarks by the U.S. National Security Adviser regarding Turkey’s economic situation were proof that the U.S. administration is targeting a NATO ally as part of an economic war.

İbrahim Kalın

Turkey’s presidential spokesperson, İbrahim Kalın

In a written statement responding to an interview whichJohnBoltongave to Reuters, [the presidential] spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said the U.S. administration’s most recent policies were at odds with the fundamental principles and values of the NATO alliance.

Turkey and the United States are embroiled in a deep dispute focused on a U.S. pastor, Andrew Brunson, being tried on terrorism charges in Turkey. The row has fuelled a slide in the lira, which has lost more than a third of its value against the dollar this year.

“The Trump administration has … established that it intends to use trade, tariffs and sanctions to start a global trade war,” he said, pointing to similar disputes with Mexico, Canada, Europe and China.

“Turkey has no intention of starting an economic war with any party. It cannot, however, be expected to keep silent in the face of attacks against its economy and judiciary,” he said.

Kalın said Turkey would work with the rest of the world against restrictive and punitive measures.

“The U.S. administration’s most recent policies are at odds with the fundamental principles and values of the NATO alliance,” he added.

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This opinion piece by Murat Yetkin makes some important points:

Is it OK for the West if there is a coup in Turkey?

[O]n Aug. 22, Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton told Reuters in Jerusalem “the Turkish government made a big mistake in not releasing Brunson” and “this crisis could be over instantly if they did the right thing as a NATO ally, part of the West and release the pastor without condition.”

This is arrogant and vague language, which could be used against an enemy or a rival but not an “ally.” What kind of a deal Bolton is talking about is also unclear. If “the government,” not the court would release Brunson, does Bolton mean all subjects of crisis, from Gülen to the U.S. support of PKK offshoots in Syria, would be over “instantly”?

The U.S. and NATO have turned a blind eye on the coups inTurkeyin 1960, 1971 and 1980; [or] have supported and shed crocodile tears as long asTurkey served Western military interests. That was the Cold War. It is no excuse, but the U.S. priority then was to be against the Soviet Union, which has now been succeeded by the Russian Federation.

Is this hypocrisy still valid? Is it OK for the West if there is a coup in Turkey, as long as it serves their military interests?

Who is Andrew Brunson?

The guy claims he’s innocent – Trump is demanding his unconditional release . . . But check this out:

U.S. missionary thrust to the center of Turkey-U.S. crisis

By Ezgi Erkoyun and Humeyra Pamuk

IZMIR, Turkey (Reuters) – When Andrew Brunson saw a police summons on his door in late summer 2016, the U.S. evangelical pastor thought it was a routine appointment to sort out his residency papers in Turkey*, his home for nearly a quarter of a century.

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Let him go or we’ll destroy your economy!

He went to the police station on Oct. 7, 2016, was detained and later charged with involvement in a coup attempt. He is still in detention and is now at the center of a diplomatic row that has fueled Turkey’s most serious currency crisis for almost two decades.

In July, after nearly two years in prison, Brunson was moved to house arrest. A court on Friday rejected an appeal to release him, saying evidence was still being collected and he posed a flight risk, according to a copy of the ruling seen by Reuters.

U.S. President Donald Trump has demanded Brunson’s unconditional release, describing him as a “great patriot hostage”, and has slapped sanctions and tariffs on Turkey which have helped push the lira currency to record lows.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has linked Brunson’s release to the fate of Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Muslim cleric living in the United States whom he blames for the July 2016 coup attempt. Erdogan has raised tariffs on U.S. cars, alcohol and tobacco in a tit-for-tat response.

“You have one pastor as well. Give him (Gulen) to us… Then we will try him (Brunson) and give him to you,” Erdogan said in a speech last September to police officers Halavurt, Brunson’s lawyer, said the North Carolina pastor was not unduly alarmed when he first went to the police station. He expected at worst to be given a two-week deadline to leave the country – standard practice with residency violations – and to return to Turkey when his papers were sorted out*.

Instead, he was held in a detention center for two months before being formally arrested on Dec. 9, 2016.

He was charged with crimes committed on behalf of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Kurdish militant group which has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state, and on behalf of Gulen’s network, according to the indictment seen by Reuters. Both are designated terrorist groups by Ankara.

He was also charged with disclosing state information “for political or military espionage”.

Brunson has denied all the charges against him.

Prosecutors questioned why he traveled hundreds of miles from his church on Turkey’s western coast to the mainly Kurdish southeast interior, where the PKK is active.**

Messages on his phones, travel details, testimony from his congregation and what the indictment refers to as three secret witnesses, codenamed “Prayer”, “Fire” and “Meteor”, were cited in evidence against him.

The indictment cites GPS data showing trips to Suruc, near the Syrian border, and the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, as well as a meeting in 2010 with a man described by one of the secret witnesses as a U.S. special forces soldier.

Brunson said his trips to Kurdish areas were to help refugees who had escaped war in neighboring Syria.**

“I do not accept that I acted in accordance with PKK targets … We wanted to convert Syrian refugees coming to Izmir. I do not differentiate between their ethnic identities,” he said.**

“Prayer”, the secret witness, was quoted in the indictment as saying Brunson was linked to prominent suspected members of Gulen’s network.

Halavurt said the witness had failed to offer concrete evidence of any such connections.

The prosecution said in its indictment that Brunson’s phone records and witness testimony did establish the connections.

Brunson was not in the country at the time of the coup attempt but returned soon afterwards, according to his lawyer. In a text message cited in the indictment, he said the coup attempt “was a shock”.

“We were waiting for some events that would shake the Turks – preparing the conditions for Jesus’ return … I think the situation is going to get worse. We’ll win in the end,” said the message, which was dated July 21, 2016 and addressed to a fellow pastor, according to the indictment.***

Brunson did not deny sending the message but said it had been misunderstood, the indictment said.***

Reuters

POINTS TO PONDER

* It is very easy for foreign residents to extend their residence permit in Turkey for two years. What was Brunson’s problem? Clearly he knew he was in violation of Turkey’s laws before the police came knocking on his door.

**Convert Syrian refugees coming into Turkey? Yeah sure! I suspect they’ve got more pressing worries on their mind.

***How can you “misunderstand” a message like that? Christian “missionaries” have a long history of stirring up trouble in Turkey, and before that, in the Ottoman Empire. These biblical fundamentalist, evangelist, Zionist, anti-Muslim extremists are either ignorant unwitting tools of imperialist governments, or else they are knowingly working for them. Either way, they are going to upset locals. The only reason they can operate in Turkey is that it is the only majority Muslim country that will tolerate their incendiary activities.

 

Thanks to Trump, Turkey is not alone

Extracts from an opinion piece by Murat Yetkin

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Turkish guy facing down a tank at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport – July 16, 2016

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.

miltary-coup-turkey-cnn-1

CNN news coverage on the night of the attempted coup. So was it staged? Who were the US supporting?

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 pledges $15 billion investment

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.

Qatar meeting

Qatar’s and Turkey’s leaders meeting over lunch

“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 frustration is bigger than US’s

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. 

Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu

Turkey’s  Minister of Foreign Affairs responding to President Trump’s “frustration

“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.

Trust the United States? Sure can’t!

Yemen: US allies strike deals with al-Qaida in war on rebels

By MAGGIE MICHAEL and TRISH WILSON and LEE KEATH – Associated Press – Monday, August 6, 2018

US-double-standards-on-Syria-and-Yemen-MintPress-NewsATAQ, Yemen (AP) – A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the United States has cut secret deals with al-Qaida fighters, paying some to leave key cities and towns the militants had seized across Yemen and letting others retreat with weapons, equipment and wads of looted cash, an investigation by The Associated Press has found. Hundreds more were recruited to join the coalition itself.

Again and again over the past two years, the coalition has claimed to win decisive victories that drove al-Qaida militants from their strongholds and shattered their ability to attack the West. What the victors didn’t disclose: many of those conquests came without firing a shot.

The compromises and alliances have allowed al-Qaida militants to survive to fight another day – and risk strengthening the most dangerous branch of the terror network that carried out the 9/11 attacks.

Key participants in the pacts said the U.S. was aware of the arrangements and held off on any drone strikes as the al-Qaida fighters retreated in plain sight.

syrian-rebels-1

And add al-Qaida to that

The AP’s findings are based on reporting in Yemen and interviews with two dozen officials, including Yemeni security officers, militia commanders, tribal mediators and four members of al-Qaida’s branch. All but a few of those sources spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals. Emirati-backed factions, like most armed groups in Yemen, have been accused of abducting or killing their critics.

The deals uncovered by the AP reflect the contradictory interests of the two wars being waged simultaneously in this southwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula.

In one conflict, the U.S. is working with its Arab allies – particularly the United Arab Emirates – with the aim of eliminating the extremists known as Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP. But the larger mission is to win the civil war against the Houthis, Iranian-backed Shiite rebels. In that fight, al-Qaida is effectively on the same side as the coalition – and, by extension, the United States.

2016-12_Hartung_Report_Page_1

The “war” in Yemen?

The U.S. has sent the coalition billions of dollars in weapons to fight the Houthis, and American jets provide air-to-air refueling for coalition war planes. The U.S. does not fund the coalition, however, and there is no evidence that American money went to AQAP militants.

“Elements of the U.S. military are clearly aware that much of what the U.S. is doing in Yemen is aiding AQAP and there is much angst about that,” said Michael Horton, a fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, a U.S. analysis group that tracks terrorism.

But supporting allies against “what the U.S. views as Iranian expansionism takes priority over battling AQAP and even stabilizing Yemen,” Horton said.Trust the United States?

Read the whole article

United States losing friends fast

Trump’s trade war is destroying economic growth, says German minister

Peter Altmaier says history shows such actions hurt consumers above all.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s sanctions and trade tariffs imposed on countries like China and Turkey are damaging economic growth, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said in an interview published Sunday.unnamed-4

“This trade war is slowing down and destroying economic growth, and producing new uncertainties,” Altmaier told Bild am Sonntag newspaper. “The past has shown that during trade wars, consumers suffer above all because products get more expensive.”

The United States is about to hit a variety of synthetic rubber products and halogenated polymers from China on August 23, as part of its second tranche of punitive tariffs. Trump also said Friday he would hit Turkey with increased steel and aluminum tariffs amid a diplomatic row over the arrest of an American pastor and charges against several U.S. officers at the İncirlik Air Base in southern Turkey.

Altmaier also praised an agreement reached last month by Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on trade, saying it has saved hundreds of thousands of jobs in Europe.

“We have again turned the corner just a few meters from the edge. A global trade war would not know winners, only losers,” he said. “The agreement that EU Commission President Juncker set up with Trump secures hundreds of thousands of jobs in Germany and Europe.”

unnamed-6Altmaier was also critical of U.S. sanctions against Iran, the first set of which came into force last Monday. “We do not let Washington dictate trade relations with other countries and therefore stand by the Vienna nuclear agreement so that Iran does not produce nuclear weapons,” Altmaier said, referring to the 2015 deal reached with Iran.

In a joint statement on Monday, the European guarantors of the Iran agreement said they were actively working to thwart the U.S. sanctions.

“We deeply regret the re-imposition of sanctions by the U.S., due to the latter’s withdrawal from the [deal],” the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, said in the statement, also signed by the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the U.K.

Source

 

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With thanks to Malcolm Evans for the excellent cartoons!

PS – Italy agrees with Germany:

[Altmaier’s] words came one day after Italian Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero dold Daily Il Foglio that Turkey plays a major role in balances in the Mediterranean, saying that it is “my first thought is lending it support.”

Source