Trump’s threat aimed distracting Erdoğan during BRICS summit - pro-gov't paper

The U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat against Turkey on Thursday was an economic bluff and aimed to distract President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during the BRICS summit, columnist Levent Yılmaz wrote in his article in pro-government Yeni Şafak newspaper on Saturday. 

The U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence announced on Thursday that the United States would impose sanctions on Turkey if Pastor Brunson’s detention continued. Despite the U.S. authorities repeated calls for his release, Brunson was moved to house arrest on Wednesday, after nearly two years in prison facing charges of supporting both a banned Islamist group and left-wing Kurdish armed rebels.

While the relations between Turkey and U.S. strained once again, Turkey’s President Erdoğan was in Johannesburg attending the tenth summit of the BRICS bloc, which groups Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Erdoğan was invited to attend the summit’s “BRICS Plus” session as term chairman of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

According to Yılmaz, the threats from the U.S. did not make sense, as Brunson was moved to house arrest. “In my opinion, the real critical issue was President Erdoğan’s visit to South Africa for the tenth BRICS summit, to which he was specially invited as the team chairman of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation,” Yılmaz said. 

Yılmaz added that the United States was opposing the BRICS group which included China and Russia and was wary of Turkey’s relations with those countries, which have been evolving toward strategic partnership. 

“Therefore, from this perspective, it is obvious that the timing of the announcements meant to distract the attention of Turkey during its meetings in the tenth BRICS summit,” Yılmaz said. 

Trump’s tweets and the the bill passed by the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations on Thursday which aims to restrict loans to Turkey may affect the perceptions in financial markets, but will not create important results for Turkish economy, according to Yılmaz. “Because of the situation of domestic politics in the United States, those [financial] institutions are unlikely to change their credit policies. Moreover, Turkey has no debt to IMF,” Yılmaz explained. 

Turkey and Turkish economic actors should stay calm when responding to this economic bluff, Yılmaz added, noting that the imperialist mentality always pushes others to make mistakes and gains from those mistakes.