Attack on economy like attack on Turkish flag: Erdoğan
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called the ongoing currency crisis an attack on the Turkish economy, which he described as an attack on the Turkish flag and call to prayer, indirectly defying the United States administration’s warnings of more sanctions if the U.S. pastor is not released soon.
“An attack on our economy is no different from a direct strike against our flag and call to prayer. The purpose is not different. It aims to bring Turkey and the Turkish people to their knees,” Erdoğan said in his Eid al-Adha message on early Aug. 20.
Erdoğan’s message did not cite the U.S. administration but obviously referred to an ongoing spat between the two allies over the detention of pastor Andrew Brunson over terror charges.
“We are not going to take it sitting down,” said U.S. President Donald Trump on Aug. 17, openly threatening Turkey with more sanctions for the continued detention of the pastor.
Trump also denounced Turkey as a “problem for a long time.”
At a cabinet meeting on Aug. 17, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Munchin assured further sanctions were ready to be put in place if Brunson was not freed.
“We have more that we are planning to do if they don’t release him quickly,” said Munchin.
The Turkish Lira has lost around 40 percent value against the U.S. dollar in the last month.
In response, Turkey said it would retaliate against any sanctions to be imposed by the U.S., blaming the Trump administration for using the Brunson case for its internal political objectives on the eve of midterm congressional elections in the U.S.
Erdoğan had repeated that Turkey saw the conspiracy plotted on Turkey in a statement over the weekend, vowing to walk tall against U.S. threats.
In his message on Aug. 20, Erdoğan reminded that the Turkish people could avert all attacks thanks to their ability to act in unity in difficult times, recalling the coup attempt in 2016.
“Our people are acting with the same merit today,” he said.
“We are a kind of a people who prefer to be beheaded instead of being chained around the neck,” said the Turkish president.
‘They will see they are mistaken’
Erdoğan underlined that those who think they can make Turkey give up through the exchange rate will soon see they are mistaken.
“If those who have failed to make Turkey give up through terror organizations and local treacherous gangs with all sorts of traps and tricks, think they can make Turkey give up through exchange rates, they will soon see they are mistaken. Our country, God willing, has enough power and ability to overcome this,” he said.
Turkey and the U.S. also differ on the status of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, a group the former designated as a terror organization but the latter as an effective partner in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria. Turkey has long been accusing the U.S. of backing and arming the YPG, which constitutes an important security threat against its NATO ally.