Turkey’s Detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson Prompts U.S. Sanctions. What’s At Stake?

Re-Blogged From Stratfor

The Big Picture

The distance between Turkey and the United States has been growing as each pursues security and economic imperatives at the expense of the other. In our annual forecast, Stratfor mentioned that U.S. rival Russia would use its “deepening ties to widen Turkey’s rifts with NATO and with the European Union,” just one of many stressors taxing the U.S.-Turkey relationship.

 

See 2018 Annual Forecast

See Middle East and North Africa section of the 2018 Annual Forecast

What Happened?

On Aug. 1, the United States sanctioned two Turkish government ministers in response to what Washington views as the “unjust and unfair” detention of Andrew Brunson, an evangelical pastor who has lived and worked in Turkey for two decades. Turkey’s government has promised to retaliate.

How Did Turkey and the United States Get Here?

The sanctions on Turkish government officials because of Brunson’s detention represent the culmination of increasing tension between Ankara and Washington. For months, they have disagreed over issues as wide ranging as Turkey’s demands for the extradition of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, Turkey’s relationship with Russia and its threats to the NATO alliance, Turkey’s history of flouting Iran sanctions, conflicting U.S.-Turkish policies in Syria and more.

What Do These Sanctions Mean for Turkey’s Economy?

The economic sanctions themselves are largely symbolic — they only affect the two ministers’ personal finances — but their imposition is just one of many external factors wreaking havoc on its economy and contributing to the further depreciation of its currency, the lira. And Turkey has a history of exacerbating domestic economic strains with its foreign policy decisions.

 

The sanctions on Turkish government officials because of Brunson’s detention represent the culmination of increasing tension between Ankara and Washington.

 

In part because of the country’s flagging economy, there has been an unusual coalescing of its many feuding political parties. Now that Washington has implemented sanctions, all the parties can join together to blame the United States for Turkey’s economic woes.

What Do the Sanctions Mean for American Businesses in Turkey?

Turkey’s legal system, its recently expanded counterterrorism laws and the current hypernationalist political atmosphere give Ankara license to crack down on anything that it deems a security threat. There is a strong possibility of increased harassment of U.S. travelers and businesses, as well as a disruption of business operations for companies with U.S. ties.

What Are the Foreign Policy Implications?

The United States and Turkey maintain the largest and second-largest militaries in NATO, respectively. A serious rift between them would result in disruptions and confusion within the NATO alliance. This would be a boon for Russia, which would welcome a less cohesive NATO. Moscow could use the potential disruptions — especially in the Black Sea — as an opportunity to break down Turkey’s traditional role as NATO’s southeastern flank against Russia. The Kremlin may also decide to shift more of its forces to its western military region to face off against NATO in Eastern Europe.

The United States is also traditionally the largest arms exporter to Turkey, so damaged relations between the two could drive Ankara toward alternative suppliers. And given the two countries’ interconnectedness in a number of defense industry areas, a U.S. cancellation of arms deals with Turkey (seen in the U.S. threat to cancel F-35 fighter shipments to Ankara) could result in significant short-term defense disruptions that would affect the many countries involved in the F-35 program.

A serious rift between the Turkey and the United States would result in disruptions and confusion in the NATO alliance as a whole. This would be a boon for Russia, which would welcome a less cohesive NATO.

Furthermore, a schism could damage U.S. interests in the Middle East. The harm would be particularly evident in northern Syria and northern Iraq, where Turkey could be even more proactive in undermining the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as well as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and its allies in northern Iraq. This approach would clash with U.S. efforts to emphasize the defeat of violent extremist groups like the Islamic State by maintaining a stable SDF presence in Syria and a stable environment in northern Iraq. The United States could also potentially lose access to its air base in Incirlik, Turkey, though it has enough alternative basing rights in the Mediterranean and the Gulf region to mitigate such a loss.

One final negative implication for U.S. policy in the Middle East could involve Turkey’s refusing to enforce U.S. economic sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. Some of those penalties will be reapplied on Aug. 6 and Nov. 4. Turkey is likely weighing two competing imperatives. It needs to protect its fragile economy, which could not withstand additional external shocks from more U.S. sanctions. But it also could choose to trade with Iran in order to poke a hole in U.S. efforts to limit Iran’s economic activity. For this type of retaliation, Turkey would need to rely more on its fair-weather relationship with the European Union, which is currently in a fairly positive place.

CONTINUE READING –>

Advertisements

Belarus, the Borderlands and the U.S.-Russia Standoff

Eugene Chausovsky By Eugene Chausovsky – Re-Blogged From Stratfor

Highlights

  • Like other states in the European borderlands, Belarus will continue to seek to take advantage of the Russia-West standoff to meet its strategic interests.
  • Moves by Poland, the Baltic states and Ukraine to elicit greater security assistance from NATO and the United States are compromising Belarus’ efforts to serve as a mediator between Moscow and the West.
  • Belarus and the other borderland countries will be unable to escape their geopolitical vulnerabilities, because their fates are shaped by the larger powers surrounding them.

Belarus

Continue reading

Russia Won’t Sit Still for Additional U.S. Sanctions

Re-Blogged From Stratfor

Highlights

  • Washington will increase pressure on Moscow in 2018 through a series of expanded sanctions aimed at Russia’s financial stability, elites, reputation and defense industry.
  • Russia will weather the increased pressure by further insulating its economy, oligarchs and companies, placing additional responsibility for the country’s stability on the Kremlin.
  • The Russian government can maintain its position next year, though its resources are growing slim and the Kremlin faces a pivotal series of elections. 

Russia has begun insulating its economy from additional U.S. sanctions.

(MARK KOLBE/Getty Images)

Continue reading

Trump May Push, but Pakistan Won’t Budge

 Re-Blogged From Stratfor

The new year has brought renewed troubles for the already faltering relationship between the United States and Pakistan. On New Year’s Day, U.S. President Donald Trump issued a tweet accusing Pakistan of “lies & deceit” despite receiving $33 billion in U.S. aid for its cooperation in the war in Afghanistan. The next day, the White House announced that it would continue to withhold the $255 million worth of aid that had been earmarked for Pakistan in 2016, citing insufficient action against anti-NATO militants. And on Jan. 4, the White House said it would suspend $900 million in security assistance promised in 2017 and place Pakistan on a list of countries violating religious freedom.

A map shows Afghanistan, Pakistan and the surrounding region.
(LorenzoT81/iStock)

China Pulling The Strings

By Bill Holter – Re-Blogged From http://www.Silver-Phoenix500.com

China announced swap agreements with Argentina over this past week-end, they also said their mutual trade would be settled in Renminbi/yuan.  If you recall, Argentina just recently defaulted on debt.   A New York judge then ruled against Argentina’s plan to hopefully restructure.  This looks to me like China has ruled against the New York judge!

China has also in recent months been globetrotting while putting in place “swaps” and lines of credit with many potential trading partners.  Unlike the U.S., they have not ignored African nations either.  They have also set up “yuan trading” hubs in some very “Western” nations including Britain, Germany and France.  Very methodically, China has put in place trade and finance systems which have no need for dollars and/or clearing functions performed by the U.S.

Continue reading

Congressmen Push to Get Us Out of United Nations

Re-Blogged From http://freedomoutpost.com

Rep. Michael Rogers (R-AL) has put forth legislation to repeal the United Nations Participation Act of 1945 and has several supporters in favor of the bill. Currently Representatives Thomas Massie (R-KY), Jeff Duncan (R-SC) Westmoreland (R-GA), and Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) has co-sponsored the bill. According to the bill, it would:

  • Repeal The United Nations Participation Act of 1945 (Public Law 79–264; 22 U.S.C. 287 et seq.) is repealed.
  • Termination of membership in United Nations
    • The President shall terminate all membership by the United States in the United Nations, and in any organ, specialized agency, commission, or other formally affiliated body of the United Nations.
  • Closure of United States Mission to United Nations Any remaining functions of such office shall not be carried out.

Continue reading

Soros Warns On “Threshold Of A Third World War”

By Mark O’Byrne – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com

– War “inevitable” if U.S. meddles in South China Sea – Global Times
– Senior NATO official
warns that “we’ll probably be at war this summer”
– Soros warns of ‘New World Order’ and war with China
– Soros warns could be “on the threshold of a Third World War”
– Many countries in Pacific lay claim to strategically important and mineral rich islands
– Tensions between U.S. and China and Russia escalating
– War would have many facets including cyber-warfare and
currency wars

Continue reading