Sanctions on Turkey are ineffective diplomacy - analyst

A wave of sanctions and tariffs on Turkey imposed by the United States are helping President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to rally support rather than targeting the Turkish government’s unlawful detention of U.S. citizens or human rights abuses in general, according to security scholar Neil Bhatiya's article in World Politics Review (WPR).

Sanctions on the Turkish government may seem logical, but they have allowed Erdoğan to create a “rally-round-the-flag” effect, pitting Turkish citizens against foreign forces, Bhatiya said.

“I like Turkey. I like the people of Turkey very much, but it can’t be a one-way street. It’s no longer a one-way street for the United States," U.S. President Donald Trump told Reuters on Aug. 20, amid talk of further action against Turkey for the imprisonment of U.S. citizens.

Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has so far resisted U.S. demands to release the detained U.S. citizens and employees, including Pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been held on terror charges since Oct. 2016.

The United States placed sanctions on two Turkish ministers and doubled tariffs on imported Turkish steel and aluminium in response, accelerating the fall in value of the already-weak Turkish lira.

However, Bhatiya raises an essential question on the effects of the sanctions – do they “(target) the Turkish government for its human rights abuses, or (punish) the Turkish people?"

If the sanctions target Turkish citizens, then Trump risks falling into the same position as Erdoğan by worsening conditions “for those living in authoritarian or corrupt regimes," said Bhatiya.

At the same time, Trump's sanction decision politically serves Erdoğan by allowing him to blame Turkey’s fraught economic situation on foreign attack, he added.

“The attack on our economy has absolutely no difference from attacks on our call to prayer and our flag. The goal is the same. The goal is to bring Turkey and the Turkish people to their knees,” Erdoğan has said about the situation, which he describes as “economic war.”
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