Turkey will stand up to US in face of sanctions threat over American pastor -Erdogan

Erdogan said Trump could not make Turkey take a step back with sanctions. (AFP)
Updated 30 July 2018
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Turkey will stand up to US in face of sanctions threat over American pastor -Erdogan

  • Relations between the NATO allies have worsened over the jailing of Brunson
  • Ties had already been strained over multiple issues including Washington’s support of a Syrian Kurdish militia

ISTANBUL: President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey will stand its ground after US President Donald Trump threatened to slap sanctions on Ankara if it does not free an American pastor, broadcaster Haberturk reported on Sunday.
Relations between the United States and Turkey are on the line in the dispute over pastor Andrew Brunson, Erdogan was quoted as saying by TRT Haber and other media.
Trump on Thursday threatened to impose “large sanctions” on Turkey unless it freed Brunson, who has worked in Turkey for more than 20 years and has been accused of helping the group Ankara says was behind a failed military coup in 2016.
The pastor, who has denied the charges, is now under house arrest and faces up to 35 years in jail if found guilty.
“We will not step back when faced with sanctions,” Erdogan was quoted as saying. “They should not forget that they will lose a sincere partner.”
Brunson, who is from North Carolina, was transferred to house arrest last week after 21 months of detention in a Turkish prison.
Diplomats have been working to settle the tense dispute and on Saturday US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo discussed the status of the pastor with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, the State Department said.
Brunson’s detention has deepened a rift between Washington and Ankara, which are also at odds over the Syrian war and Turkey’s plan to buy missile defenses from Russia.
It was not clear what would be the nature of sanctions threatened by Trump but Washington was already working on bills related to Turkey due to other issues of concern.
The US Senate has demanded a block on sales of F-35 jets to Turkey unless Trump certifies that Turkey is not threatening NATO, purchasing defense equipment from Russia or detaining US citizens.
Also, a US Senate bill to restrict loans to Turkey from international financial institutions passed through a committee, an important early step for the bill to become legislation.
Erdogan said that Turkey would resort to international arbitration if the United States does not deliver an agreed sale of F-35 fighter jets to Ankara, broadcaster Haberturk reported.
“(If the US blocks F-35 jets) We said we would go to international arbitration. If it comes to that point, there are other alternatives,” Erdogan was quoted as saying.
Israel confirmed on Friday that Trump had requested Israel to release a Turkish woman it accused of ties to Hamas.
Israel deported Ebru Ozkan on July 15 and media reported that Washington was hoping that Turkey would release Brunson in exchange.
Erdogan confirmed that Turkey had asked for US help in securing the return to Turkey of Ozkan, broadcaster Haberturk reported, but denied any form of deal to release Brunson in exchange.
“We told the US that they might help for released and innocent Ebru to get back her passport and return to Turkey,” Erdogan was quoted as saying by Haberturk.
“However, we did not say we will give you Brunson in return.”


Abadi faces US wrath at U-turn on Iran sanctions

An intended visit to Tehran was canceled and Abadi’s office denied that the visit had even been planned. (REUTERS)
Updated 15 August 2018
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Abadi faces US wrath at U-turn on Iran sanctions

  • Iran has maintained close ties to Iraq's government since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein, Tehran's archenemy
  • The administration says the renewed sanctions are meant to pressure Tehran to halt its alleged support for international terrorism

BAGHDAD: Failure by Iraq to comply fully with tough new US economic sanctions against Iran would be insane, analysts told Arab News on Tuesday.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi risked incurring US wrath after contradicting himself in the space of a few hours over whether his country would comply.
Amid diplomatic maneuvers, as he negotiates for a second term in office after divisive and contested elections, Abadi offended both Tehran and Washington with conflicting statements on the US sanctions, which were reimposed last week.
First, the prime minister said that while Iraq disapproved of the new sanctions, it would reluctantly comply. “We don’t support the sanctions because they are a strategic error, but we will comply with them,” he said.
“Our economic situation is also difficult and we sympathize with Iran. But. at the same time, I will not make grand slogans that destroy my people and my country just to make certain people happy.”
His position provoked anger in Iran. An intended visit to Tehran on Tuesday to discuss the issue was canceled, and Abadi’s office denied that the visit had even been planned.
There was also criticism inside Iraq, especially from groups close to Tehran, such as the Asaib Ahl Al-Haq and Badr paramilitary movements.
Within hours, however, Abadi had reversed his position. “I did not say we abide by the sanctions, I said we abide by not using dollars in transactions. We have no other choice,” Abadi told a news conference in Baghdad.
Asked if Baghdad would stop imports of commodities, appliances and equipment by government companies from Iran, he said the matter was still being reviewed. “We honestly have not made any decision regarding this issue until now,” he said.
Michael Knights, the Lafer Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Arab News: “Iraq can’t afford to be cut off from the dollar-based global financial system, so it makes sense to avoid sanctioned Iranian financial entities. Iraq should also protect its dollar reserves.
“These are the only sane options for a country that desperately needs international investment.”
Iraq is the second-largest purchaser of Iranian non-oil exports, and bought about $6 billion worth of goods in 2017. It also buys Iranian-generated electricity to deal with chronic power cuts that have been a key factor sparking mass protests in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, the British renewable energy investor Quercus became the latest major company to pull out of Iran as a result of the new sanctions.
It halted construction of $570 million solar power plant in Iran, which would have been the sixth-largest in the world.