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

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