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Pastor and no jet-fighters: how the US presses on Turkey

Trump threatened Turkey with sanctions for the retention of Pastor Branson

Washington threatened Ankara with sanctions because of the situation with the detention in Turkey of the American pastor Andrew Brunson, whom the Turkish authorities consider an accomplice of the organization of the failed coup d’état in 2016. The first measures, in fact, have already been taken – the other day the US Senate restricted the head of the Pentagon in the right to approve Turkey’s supplies of American weapons, including F-35 fighters.

US President Donald Trump demanded the release of pastor Andrew Brunson held in Turkey, threatening to impose sanctions on the Turkish side.

“It’s a shame that Turkey does not release a respected pastor from the United States Andrew Brunson. He had been held hostage for too long. Erdogan must do something to liberate this wonderful Christian, husband and father. He did not do anything, and his family needs him! “- Trump wrote on Twitter.

The reaction to the threat from the American leader was immediate. “No one can dictate to Turkey how to act. We will never tolerate threats from anyone. Before the law, everyone is equal without exception, “Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkish Foreign Minister said.

Similar statements Ankara only more provokes the US to impose sanctions, said Viktor Nadein-Rayevsky, a researcher at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences. In his opinion, such a response is “demonstration of an independent Turkish position”.

Recall that in 2016 a group of soldiers and officers of the Turkish Armed Forces made an attempt to implement a coup d’état. As a result of armed clashes in Istanbul and Ankara, 250 people were killed, more than 2 thousand were injured. Then the US condemned the coup attempt and supported the current government of Turkey.

Pastor Andrew Brunson, who lived with his family in the Izmir area for more than 20 years, was arrested in 2017 on suspicion of “threat to national security” of Turkey. He was accused of having links with the movement of the Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who, according to the Turkish authorities, was behind an unsuccessful coup attempt in Turkey. The prosecutor’s office requires 35 years of imprisonment for the pastor. On July 25, the court decided to relocate Brunson for house arrest, but there is no release.

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The alleged ideological inspirer of the coup attempt, Turkish preacher and publicist Fethullah Gülen has been living in voluntary exile in the United States for almost 20 years. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly accused Gülen of setting up an informal organization “parallel structure”, whose goal is allegedly the overthrow of the government in Turkey. The preacher also figured in the case of a large-scale corruption scandal in 2013, as a result of which 52 officials from Erdogan’s party were detained the ambulance twice – in 2014 and 2015 – issued an arrest warrant for Gülen. In August 2017 Turkey also passed a law authorizing Erdogan to extradite foreign citizens in exchange for Turkish prisoners “in situations where it is necessary for national security or in the interests of the country.” Erdogan repeatedly demanded that Washington extradite Gülen, but was refused . In 2017, the Turkish leader suggested that the United States exchange Brunson for Gulen, but this never happened. According to the researcher of the Center for the Study of the Near and Middle East of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Ilshat Saetov, the American side’s refusal to make the exchange is understandable. “Gülen is a full-fledged citizen, he is not listed as a criminal, which means that Trump simply has no right to extradite him. Trump is not the owner of people in America, to exchange, “says Saetov.

According to the document of the US Senate, the Minister of Defense is deprived of the opportunity to approve the supply of Turkish arms to the US, including F-35 fighters. The explanatory note to the draft defense budget states that this amendment relates to the arrest of Branson. Earlier in the United States, such measures and even sanctions against Turkey were already threatened – due to the Turkish side’s conclusion on the agreement on the supply of Russian anti-aircraft missile systems S-400 As a result, the US Congress froze the supply of F-35 fighters to Turkey.

It turns out that the draft defense budget of the United States, presented by the Senate, has tied together two conflict situations.

Ilshat Saetov called the similar political game and suggested that nothing serious would follow. The expert also noted that for Turkey sanctions are “much more dangerous thing than dividend from the maintenance of some unfortunate pastor.” In July 2017, Ankara and Moscow signed an agreement on the purchase of Russian S-400 by Turkey. Soon the treaty came into effect, the Turkish side provided an advance. The deal was worth $ 2.5 billion. The first deliveries will be made in March 2020. The US did not accept the Russian-Turkish deal – Washington announced that such actions threaten NATO. It was then that the American side first talked about sanctions against Ankara. However, Ankara refused to cancel the deal, despite the threats of the United States. At the same time, Erdogan stressed that for several years Turkey had asked Washington to sell Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems, but the request remained unanswered. Speaking about the situation of bargaining and the resulting connection between the purchase of the S-400 and requests for the American pastor, Ilshat Saetov explains that the Ankara uses detention of Brunson as a “trump card” to get maximum benefit for itself. According to the expert, the fact that the US allowed the purchase of the S-400 can be considered a concession from the US. Pastor will eventually be sent home, but they will retain the face, Saetov is sure.

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