On Friday, the Turkish lira suffered its largest one-day devaluation in almost two decades, down more than 14 percent against the dollar. Minister of Finance – Turkey's president's son-in-law Recep Tayyip Erdogan – could not prevent the slide, giving a solemn speech, which helped to increase confidence.
But Erdogan, as he often does, blamed the foreign scapegoat: the United States.
"Shame on you, shame for you," he declared at the rally, "You are changing your strategic partner in NATO for the pastor."
The pastor is Andrew Brunson, an American cleric who has been in Turkey since 2016. He is charged with espionage and other crimes – accusations that he and US officials reject. Attempts to win his freedom have failed so far.
According to my colleagues, Ankara hoped to exchange Brunson for Hakan Atilla, a banker convicted in the United States for his role in a scheme that bypassed US sanctions against Iranian oil. But the Trump administration is outraged by Turkey's use of Brunson as a political hostage. The high-level meeting in Washington last week with a visit to the Turkish delegation ended suddenly after the Americans demanded the immediate release of the pastor.
President Trump announced an increase in tariffs for aluminum and steel in Turkey, which led to a drop in the lira level to a historic low. Economic woes in Turkey by themselves, but tariffs exacerbated the situation, and Trump was too happy to take credit.
Erdogan continued his complaints in New York Times, speaking out against "unilateral actions against Turkey on the part of the United States, our ally of the decade." He read a familiar catalog of insults, including Washington's reluctance to hand over Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric accused of fomenting an unsuccessful coup in 2016 against Erdogan, and continued American support for the Syrian Kurdish factions. Then he gave a clear threat, urging Washington "to abandon the erroneous idea that our relations can be asymmetric and are consistent with the fact that Turkey has alternatives."
If the United States does not change its approach, Erdogan warned that Turkey "will start looking for new friends and allies". Indeed, the Turkish president strengthened ties with Russia, tried to fix fences with key West European governments and, as a significant importer of Iranian oil, could undermine US efforts to isolate Tehran.
But this posturing will bring him even more enemies in Washington, where Erdogan is already a deeply unpopular figure, Congress passed legislation critical sale of F-35 aircraft to Turkey depending on conditions that include the immediate release of Branson. Critics of Erdogan in foreign circles of the United States to hate your creeping authoritarianismAnd Trump, unlike previous presidents, has shown an endless willingness to intimidate former allies whenever he does not agree with them.
"Washington usually tried to calm the world markets at such moments, especially when investors are seized by the fear of infection, noted the Wall Street Journal, "Trump instead squeezed Ankara further." This had global consequences: fluctuations in Turkey caused great concern about fragility in other emerging markets and alarmed some of the major European banks that are holding Turkish debt.
AT interview with Bloomberg News, Expert on the Middle East of the Atlantic Council, Aaron Stein, suggested that Erdogan can not calculate the situation badly. "The balance of power is asymmetric, completely in favor of the United States," Stein said. "On the US side, there are no protective rails, and it is there that the Turks are completely, completely spoiled in their understanding of what is happening in the United States."
Erdoğan's calls for NATO partnership are especially tight, given both Erdogan's close relationship with Europe and Trump, caring for the alliance. "For the administration or the president who does not give much value to NATO, the value of Turkey as a loyal NATO ally has also declined," said Jacob Fark Kierkegaard of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in an interview with Bloomberg News. "The Trump administration" I'm not going to go the extra mile to save an organization that she does not appreciate. "
Analysts hope that coolers will prevail, "Turkey's economic and legal problems are obvious, but US sanctions are unlikely to help anything, observed the Turkish commentator Mustafa Akyol, "Rather, they can be counterproductive, strengthening the nationalistic sentiment of Turkey and pushing the country further to the Russian axis. More diplomacy is needed, not sanctions. "
But there is not enough productive diplomacy. Most of Erdogan's policy now The hinge on the exciting nationalistic sentiment to justify his tight grip in the countryHe won re-election in June with the support of ultranationalists, arguing that stronger control would help him to rid the country of the troubled economy of Turkey. Instead, things just got worse.
"The current crisis is the culmination of Erdogan's reckless leadership. It will take years to fix – a task that will require new leadership and a completely different mentality, wrote Aikan Erdemir, senior researcher at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington and Erdogan's critic.
Nevertheless, even if Turkey suffers, Erdogan may not take much political blow. "The toothless opposition of Turkey … does not give much hope," Erdemir said. "Without strong political forces to push him out, Erdogan will almost certainly continue to dig himself and the Turkish economy into a deeper hole."
Trump can also get more by refusing to compromise. He can enjoy the opportunity to act tough and turn to his main supporters, squeezing a prominent Muslim leader over the fate of the American pastor.
"The maintenance of Branson plays on the basis of the American president – it is all the more obvious that NASA scientist Serkan Golga, the double Turkish U.S. citizen, is also held in Turkey, serving seven and a half years of punishment for charges similar to those brought against Branson, writes Elmira Bayrasli, Professor of International Relations at Bard College,
Of course, she noted that there is a key difference: "Gold is a Muslim, unlike Brunson, whom Trump called" a great Christian "and" an innocent man of faith. " The Trump administration did not say anything about the detention of Golga. "