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Oct 19 2018

Turkey counter-attacking U.S. with Khashoggi leaks - opinion

Gruesome leaks concerning the alleged murder of Jamal Khashoggi are a counter-attack by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against the United States, said Melik Kaylan, a contributor to Forbes magazine.

Erdogan and Khashoggi may have been allies in their support for the Muslim Brotherhood and the Turkish leader would like to undermine Saudi Arabia, which has similar regional power ambitions, but Erdogan’s primary aim may be to hurt the U.S. economy and the dollar, Kaylan said.

“Ankara to the White House: we can wreck your economy too, watch this. To the tune of (in President Trump's estimate) losing $100 billion worth of Saudi money in the U.S economy,” he said.

The leaks of apparent video and audio evidence that Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 began appearing just as Turkey sentenced then released U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson from custody last week after holding him for two years on terrorism charges, Kaylan said.

President Donald Trump had imposed sanctions against two Turkish ministers and doubled steel tariffs on Turkish steel in August over Brunson’s detention, leading to a crash in the lira and fears of a full-blown economic crisis.

“Since that first day Ankara has kept up the drip, drip, drip of harrowing details,” Kaylan said. “In effect, the Turks have counterattacked the White House.

“The threat is aimed not merely at the U.S. economy, at Donald Trump's securest claim on broad-based support, but also on the global sway of the dollar as the reserve currency underpinned by petro-dollars,” he said.

During a visit to Ankara earlier his week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the White House was considering lifting the sanctions against Turkey.