Following attempts to assassinate President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (one of which culminated in the attempted coup d’etat in July 2016), the tone of the dialogue between Washington and Ankara has been cranked up.

Turkey is detaining an evangelical US pastor, Andrew Brunson, who has affixed himself to Turkish soil for 23 years now. Turkey is charging him with colluding with the PKK (Kurds) and Fethullah Gülen. As it turns out, President Erdogan has on several occasions mentioned the offer made by Washington: “a pastor trade off”, which essentially boils down to Turkey setting Brunson free in exchange for the US government extraditing Gulen.

On 16 April, President Erdogan delivered an address to a Congress of CEOs, in the course of which he unveiled Turkey’s current plans to replace the dollar with gold in in its international contracts. This is something that Washington has still not commented on.

Finally, Ankara’s purchase of systems of anti-air defence in Moscow is raising suspicions within NATO.

On 18 April, A. Wess Mitchell, Assistant to the Secretary of State for Eurasia, announced to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives that that this matter could trigger Treasury sanctions against Turkey. Mitchell also mentioned in passing that these sanctions would have consequences for the construction of the F-35 planes, some of the parts of which came from Turkey.

On 19 April, Dana White, the Pentagon spokeslady, stressed that the S-400 are incompatible with the NATO system. It follows that they could not be used effectively by the Turkish army [unless of course Turkey quits Nato — Commentator’s note]

Anoosha Boralessa