US blunders as sanctions hit Turkish economy

US blunders as sanctions hit Turkish economy

When it comes to foreign policy America under Donald Trump has all the grace and skill of a drunken donkey on a pogo stick.

Proof, if it were needed, could be witnessed last week when the US imposed sanctions on Turkey over its refusal to extradite an American preacher imprisoned in the country.

Brunson was detained nearly two years ago after being accused of links to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party and the Gulenist movement, which Turkey blames for the failed 2016 coup.

The Turkish president is fuming that little ha been done against the Gulenist movement and what Ankara said was a failure “to unequivocally condemn” the attempted coup. Furthermore, to the frustration of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, moves to have Fethullah Gulen extradited from the US have been rebuffed.

The round of US imposed sanctions have caused market turmoil in Turkey prompting Erdogan to accuse Washington of “stabbing it in the back”. Attempts by the Turkish central bank have so far failed to ease the economy, prompting Erdogan to say: “You act on one side as a strategic partner, but on the other, you fire bullets into the foot of your strategic partner. We are together in Nato and then you seek to stab your strategic partner in the back.”

The Turkish lira and the country’s stock market have both dropped sharply in the face of rising inflation and borrowing levels. Turkey’s interior ministry said it was taking legal action against 346 social media accounts it claimed had posted comments about the weakening lira “in a provocative way”.

If I was in a tight spot anywhere in the world I’d feel a lot more secure with the Turks covering my back and fighting my corner; if I was to make an enemy it certainly would not be with Ankara.

The Trump Administration is about to discover that the best way to deal with Turkey is by velvet glove and not a thumping big iron fist. Erdogan does not respond well to threats.

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