Archive for the ‘U.S. – Turkey relationship’ category

Turkey lira crashes to new lows as market alarm grows

August 10, 2018


© AFP | The lira’s drastic fall has European banks worried

10 August 2018 – 13H20 France 24

Source Link: Turkey lira crashes to new lows as market alarm grows

{Trump drops another economic bomb. – LS}

ISTANBUL (AFP) –

Turkey’s embattled lira on Friday hit new record lows against the US dollar and euro, losing over six percent in value as strains with the United States showed no sign of abating and fears grew over the exposure of European banks.

The lira was trading at 5.90 to the dollar, a loss on the day of 6.5 percent. Earlier, it had crashed some 12 percent through the 6.00 level for the first time in history, trading at one point at more than 6.20 lira per dollar.

The lira has now lost over a third of its value against both the dollar and the euro this year, with the currency battered by both concerns over domestic economic policy and the political situation.

Versus the euro on Friday the lira lost 7.0 percent to trade at 6.8.

Turkey remains at loggerheads with the United States in one of the worst spats between the two NATO allies in years over the detention for the last two years of American pastor Andrew Brunson and a host of other issues.

Talks this week in Washington failed to resolve the impasse which has led both sides to slap sanctions on senior officials amid fears of graver measures to come.

– Doubts over central bank –

Meanwhile, markets are deeply concerned over the direction of economic policy under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with inflation nearly 16 percent but the central bank reluctant to raise rates in response.

UBS chief economist for EMEA emerging markets Gyorgy Kovacs said a giant rate hike of 350-400 basis points would be “consistent with real rate levels that in the past helped to stabilise the currency.”

He warned a “rate hike alone might not stem the worries about the US and Turkey tensions and a potential further escalation.”

And it remains unclear if the bank would be willing to sharply lift rates with analysts saying the nominally independent institution is under the influence of Erdogan, who wants low rates to keep growth humming.

Erdogan after winning June 24 elections with revamped powers tightened his control over the central bank and appointed his son-in-law Berat Albayrak to head a newly-empowered finance ministry.

“President Erdogan’s strengthened powers under the new presidential system have made it increasingly uncertain whether policymakers will be able to act to stabilise the economy,” said William Jackson, chief emerging markets economist at Capital Economics in London.

He said the lira’s fall was being exacerbated by fears the central bank “isn’t being permitted to raise interest rates”.

– ‘Accelerating speed’ –

Concerns were intensified Friday by a report in the Financial Times that the supervisory wing of the European Central Bank (ECB) had over the last weeks began to look more closely at euro zone lenders’ exposure to Turkey.

The report said that the situation is not yet seen as “critical” but Spain’s BBVA, Italy’s UniCredit and France’s BNP Paribas are regarded as particularly exposed.

“Investors have been looking at the unfolding currency crisis in Turkey as a local difficulty, however the accelerating speed of the declines appears to be raising concerns about European banks exposure to the Turkish banking system,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

Albayrak, who formerly served as energy minister, is on Friday expected to announce what he has described as a “new economic model” for Turkey but markets remain sceptical.

The president did nothing to reassure markets with comments overnight that the pressure on the lira was due to what he described as a “variety of campaigns” and appearing to play down the magnitude of the crisis.

“If they have dollars, we have our people, we have our right and we have Allah!” he said.

The plunge in the lira has featured remarkably little on Turkish television channels and newspapers — most of which after recent ownership changes are loyal to the government — with most media focusing instead on recent flooding by the Black Sea.

© 2018 AFP

Turkey vows to keep buying Iranian oil: ‘We will not obey’

July 25, 2018

by Joel Gehrke | July 24, 2018 Washington Examiner

Source Link: Turkey vows to keep buying Iranian oil: ‘We will not obey’

{One day, Turkey will need a favor from DJT. Let’s see how that works out. – LS}

Turkey plans to keep purchasing Iranian oil in defiance of American sanctions on the rogue regime, according to the NATO ally’s top diplomat.

“We buy oil from Iran and we purchase it in proper conditions,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Tuesday. “What is the other option?”

Cavusoglu’s comments raise the specter of yet another clash between the U.S. and Turkey, which is also in the final stages of an arms deal with Russia that could trigger American sanctions. Turkish officials, in both cases, have dismissed the U.S.’ threat of sanctions to constrain the choices of other countries.

“While we are explaining why we will not obey these sanctions, we have also expressed that we do not find these U.S. sanctions appropriate,” Cavusoglu said Tuesday.

The Trump administration hopes to isolate Iran and deprive the regime of access to international sources of revenue that might be used to finance a nuclear weapons program or regional aggression by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and the regime’s terrorist proxies.

“Any time sanctions are put in place, countries have to give up economic activity,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in May. “So the Americans have given up economic activity now for an awfully long time, and I’ll concede there are American companies who would love to do business with the Islamic Republic of Iran … But everyone is going to have to participate in this. Every country is going to have to understand that we cannot continue to create wealth for Qasem Soleimani.”

Turkey has pledged to consummate an agreement to purchase Russian S-400 anti-aircraft defenses, despite strong pushback from NATO allies and U.S. sanctions on the Russian defense industry.

But as Cavosoglu takes a hard line on the oil sanctions, Tupras, Turkey’s biggest oil importer, is cutting back on deals with Iran without eliminating the sales entirely.

“During the sanctions scheme of 2011 by the U.S., Tupras was able to purchase three to four cargoes of Iranian crude a month,” a source told Hurriyet Daily News. “I believe they would want to be able to stick to that this time as well instead of completely stopping. This crude needs to be bought by someone as otherwise it will send the price shooting up, which nobody wants.”

That reduction might render Turkey eligible for a rare waiver from the sanctions. “We are prepared to work with countries that are reducing their imports on a case-by-case basis,” Brian Hook, the State Department director of policy planning, told reporters in early July. “But as with our other sanctions, we are not looking to grant waivers or licenses.”

Still, Cavusoglu’s rhetoric is emblematic of the disagreements that have hampered U.S.-Turkey cooperation in the region of late.

“We need [Turkey’s] behavior to reflect the objectives of NATO, and that’s what we’re diligently working to do: to get them to rejoin NATO, in a way, with their actions, consistent with what we’re trying to achieve in NATO,” Pompeo said during a May congressional hearing. “And not take actions that undermine its efforts.”

Turkey Threatens Exxon Mobil & The US 6th Fleet Off Cyprus

March 8, 2018

by Tyler Durden Thu, 03/08/2018 – 06:10 Zero Hedge

Source Link: Turkey Threatens Exxon Mobil & The US 6th Fleet Off Cyprus

{With friends like this, who needs enemies? – LS}

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım threatened not only hydrocarbon survey ships of oil giant Exxon Mobile but also the US 6th Fleet is participating in a naval exercise in the area 7-18 March 2018.

As KeepTalkingGreece.com reports, Yildirim said:

“The Republic of Cyprus would not be allowed to get away with selling the energy resources surrounding the island,” Yildirim said on Wednesday. With reference to the turkey-occupied North part of Cyprus, he added “the natural riches surrounding the island of Cyprus is the common wealth of all the people who live on the island.”

And he threatened that:

“This and other provocative activities that create faits accomplis will be responded to in an appropriate fashion.”

It was a clear message even to the US Fleet as some media have linked its presence off  Cyprus to the Exxon survey, saying the Fleet was going to protect the Exxon Mobile survey vessels.

Last month, Turkish war ships threatened to sink drilling ship commissioned by Italy’s ENI and ultimately managed to block the process as the Italian diplomacy did not dare to put the lives of their fellowmen at risk.

A day earlier, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reacting to U.S. Sixth Fleet heading to East Mediterranean, said , “while European states’ boats abandoning refugees to death, we try to rescue every innocent’s life. You can only make it there with your Sixth Fleet, aircraft carrier.”

Yildirim underlined that any underground riches surrounding the island should only be extracted with the permission of both the island’s administrations.

“Any work in which one of these interlocutors is not part of the deal will be evaluated by us as a threat to the sovereign rights of North Cyprus,” he said.

Turkey has been illegally occupying 40% of Cyprus since 1974. It is only Turkey that recognizes “North Cyprus” as ‘state’, while the rest of the world considers as an “illegal” …something with no sovereign rights at all.

Meanwhile, in Cyprus…

One wonders just how far Turkey is willing to push Washington…

 

Trump authorizes heavy weapons for Kurds fighting Raqqa

May 9, 2017

Trump authorizes heavy weapons for Kurds fighting Raqqa, DEBKAfile, May 9, 2017

US President Donald Trump has approved supplying weapons to Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State in Syria, the Pentagon says. The Kurdish YPG leading the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) would be equipped to help drive ISIS from its stronghold, Raqqa, a spokeswoman said. The US was “keenly aware” of Turkey’s concerns about such a move, she added. The SDF, which comprises Kurdish and Arab militias, is already being supported by elite US forces and air strikes from a US-led coalition. The group is currently battling for control of the city of Tabqa, an ISIS command centre just 50km (30 miles) from Raqqa. The equipment would include ammunition, small arms, machine guns, heavy machine guns, construction equipment such as bulldozers and armored vehicles. The Pentagon ource added that the US would “seek to recover” the equipment afterwards.

 

Rushed evacuation of US nukes from Incirlik

August 18, 2016

Rushed evacuation of US nukes from Incirlik, DEBKAfile, August 18, 2016

US_PLANES_INCIRLICK_8.16

The talks ground to a halt over Turkish insistence on assuming control of the nuclear arsenal and America’s rejection of this demand.

***********************

In an earthshaking Middle East development, the United States has begun secretly evacuating the tactical nuclear weapons it had stockpiled at the southern Turkish air base of Incirlik and is transporting them to US bases in Romania.

The Obama administration has thus taken another step towards folding its tents in the Middle East.

In contrast, Moscow is rapidly expanding its air force footprint in the region with a new base in Iran following its facility in Syria. Advanced bombers and fighters are stepping up operations in both countries, while Russian warships carrying Kalibr cruise missiles gather in the Mediterranean and Caspian Seas.

DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that Washington decided to remove the nuclear arsenal to safety after talks between American and Turkish talks on release 1,500 US airmen serving at the base from the siege clamped down a month ago broke down. The airmen were running the US air campaign against ISIS in in Syria just 112km away.

The talks ground to a halt over Turkish insistence on assuming control of the nuclear arsenal and America’s rejection of this demand.

The 50-70 B61 tactical gravity nuclear bombs were stored in underground bunkers close to the US bombers’ air strips. Although this was not fully admitted by Washington, the US air and ground crews were held intermittently in lockdown since the President Tayyip Erdogan suppressed a military coup against him a month ago.

The deteriorations of relations between Ankara and Washington contrasted strongly with the Turkish-

Russian rapprochement, which Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin sealed in St. Petersburg on Aug.8. Since then, there have been calls for the Russian Air Force to be allowed to displace the US warplanes at Incirlik. This process has now begun.

Turkey’s Erdogan to US General: ‘Know Your Place’

July 31, 2016

Turkey’s Erdogan to US General: ‘Know Your Place’, Clarion Project, William Reed, July 31, 2016

Turkey-Erdogan-Gulen-IP_0Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan (left) shown with his nemesis Fethullah Gulen, who he accuses of being behind the coup. (Photo: © Reuters)

The U.S. still maintains the false view that Turkey is absolutely necessary for the U.S. because Turkey provides an access to a land base to the Middle East.

They refuse to believe that the U.S. or the West can be just as effective without Turkey. The old anti Soviet fears are still there, and it seems that the U.S. will not budge from the opinion that the U.S. should support Turkey, no matter what Turkey does.

***********************

U.S. Central Command Commander General Joseph Votel said on July 28 that a number of the U.S. military’s closest allies in the Turkish military have been placed in jail following the July 15 attempted coup.

“We’ve certainly had relationships with a lot of Turkish leaders, military leaders in particular,” General Votel said at the Aspen Security Forum meeting in Colorado. “I’m concerned about what the impact is on those relationships as we continue.”

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper also echoed General Votel’s statements.

The failed coup and the government’s backlash have “affected all segments of the national security apparatus in Turkey,” Clapper stated. “Many of our interlocutors have been purged or arrested.”

Referring to the U.S.’s Middle East strategy, Clapper added, “There’s no question that this is going to set back and make more difficult.”

On July 29, in a public statement in Ankara caught on video, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan lashed out against Votel’s comments. “A human is supposed to feel embarrassed a little bit. How dare you make this decision?” he railed. “Who are you? First, you will know your place. You will know yourself. When you – in the name of democracy – need to thank this state that has repelled this coup attempt in my country, on the contrary, you side with coup plotters. After all, the coup plotter [Fethullah Gulen] is in your country. You are feeding the coup plotter in your country. This is obvious.”

Erdogan continued, “You can never convince my nation. My nation knows who is involved in this trick now. They very well know [through] such statements who is behind this act and who the mastermind is. You reveal yourselves with these statements. You expose yourselves. Turkey will not fall for these games.”

 

Turkey Crackdown after Failed Coup

Amnesty International has issued some statistics on the situation following the failed coup in Turkey:

  • 131 media outlets and publishing houses have been shut down including 3 news agencies, 16 TV channels, 23 radio stations, 45 newspapers, 15 journals and 29 publishing houses.
  • At least 89 arrest warrants were issued for journalists. More than 40 have been detained.
  • At least 260 people were killed and more than 2,000 injured amid the failed coup attempt in Istanbul and Ankara, according to government accounts.
  • More than 15,000 people have been detained since the failed coup.
  • More than 45,000 people have been suspended or removed from their jobs, including police, judges and prosecutors, and others.
  • More than 1,000 private schools and educational institutions have been closed and 138,000 school children will have to be transferred to state schools.
  • Turkish police in Ankara and Istanbul have reportedly been holding detainees in stress positions for 48 hours. Detainees have been denied food, water and medical treatment, and been verbally abused and threatened. Some have been subjected to severe beatings and torture, including rape.
  • No independent human rights monitors have been provided with access to detention facilities in Turkey after its National Human Rights Institution was abolished in April 2016.

In addition:

  • Turkey has also cancelled the passports of 50,000 people the Islamist government suspects of being dissidents.
  • 63 teenage boys aged 14-17 who attended a top military high school have been arrested and prevented from being in touch with their parents. A lawyer for the boys said that they were duped into coming to school the night of the coup after being promised they would be meeting famous soccer players. They were then given camouflage uniforms and guns with empty magazines.

 

“Traitors’ Cemetery”

A “Traitors’ Cemetery” has recently been created in Istanbul to hold the bodies of coup plotters who died in the failed coup attempt.

Government officials have branded people allegedly involved in the attempted coup as “traitors” and “terrorists” undeserving of a proper burial. Turkey’s state-funded Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) also issued a directive denying funeral prayers and services for them.

Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas said: “May every passer-by curse them and let them not rest in their tombs.”

 

U.S.-Turkey Relations

The U.S. still maintains the false view that Turkey is absolutely necessary for the U.S. because Turkey provides an access to a land base to the Middle East.

They refuse to believe that the U.S. or the West can be just as effective without Turkey. The old anti Soviet fears are still there, and it seems that the U.S. will not budge from the opinion that the U.S. should support Turkey, no matter what Turkey does.

To many who hold this view, Turkish crimes are not important or relevant to the geopolitical considerations of the U.S. and its military goals.

Even Turkey’s documented facilitation of the Islamic State fighters through its territory or the rising dictatorship of  Erdogan have not change the Western considerations of support.

It seems that Turkey can slaughter its Kurds en-masse (which they have) or Turkey-supported terror groups can massacre Alevis and Christians in Iraq and Syria daily with no reaction from the U.S.

Turkey has seen that it has suffered no consequences for its invasion and occupation of Cyprus for decades.

With blessings from the West, Turkey has been able to devastate the Hellenic and Armenian cultural heritage of Anatolia, systematically attack and destroy historic churches and other Christian sites, ban the Alevi faith and the Kurdish language and oppress all non-Turkish cultures in a tyrannical manner.

Turkey is still allowed to deny, whitewash and even take pride in the 1915 Armenian genocide.

Tragically, it seems that what Western powers are mostly interested is to keep their monetary and other interests in Turkey for as long as it lasts.

And while that happens, the thousands of victims of Turkey’s brutality will lie in their graves or prison cells and be damned.