U.S. says ready with more sanctions if Turkey does not free pastor

Jermaine Castillo
August 19, 2018

US President Donald Trump last Friday announced he would double tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum, mocking the slide of the Turkish lira on Twitter.

In response to the weakness, the Turkish banking watchdog has taken steps to stabilize the currency, limiting futures transactions for offshore investors and lowering limits on swap transactions.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday evening said that the U.S. could look to impose fresh sanctions on Turkey if President Erdogan doesn't release imprisoned American pastor Andrew Brunson.

Referring to Brunson, Trump said: "They have a great Christian pastor there, he's a very innocent man".

Trump later said in a tweet the United States "will pay nothing" for Brunson's release, "but we are cutting back on Turkey!"

Further sanctions or tariffs could exacerbate the already fragile economic situation in Turkey, and broader emerging markets. "The US wishes to tell the Turkish society that its leader has to be removed".

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But according to Middle East Eye, Turkish diplomats said they could release Brunson anyway, subject to further concessions from the United States which could soothe diplomatic tensions and helping alleviate the diplomatic and economic crisis. "Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!"

Andrew Brunson, a 50-year-old Christian pastor, was detained two years ago in Turkey on spying charges, and faces up to 35 years in prison if found guilty.

Qatar defied US President Donald Trump on Wednesday and promised to plough $15 billion into Turkish financial markets and banks.

"So, we haven't seen the last of that".

President Donald Trump last week ramped up his attack on Turkey by doubling USA tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel imports.

"Some are threatening us with economy, sanctions, exchange rates, interests and inflation".

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Obviously this raises the stakes of the USA imposing more sanctions.

The previous day two Greek soldiers held by Turkey since March for illegally crossing the border were also freed in a move warmly welcomed by Athens.

Turkey is also seemingly on the brink of a major debt crisis, as a weakening lira makes it harder for Ankara to pay its global dues.

Qatar also reportedly instructed some influential Qatari businessmen to buy more Turkish lira to boost the currency's resilience and speed the recovery process for Turkey. In the Gulf crisis, Turkey sided with Qatar, which was the rightful side.

This week, Antalya airport in southern Turkey has welcomed more flights from the United Kingdom than the popular Spanish islands of Mallorca and Tenerife.

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