Turkey braces for more turbulance as Trump warns countries doing business with Iran

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday warned that countries doing business with Iran will "NOT be doing business with the United States," in message likely to affect Ankara which has said Washington cannot count on Turkey abiding by its sanctions against ''strategic ally'' Iran, secular Cumhuriyet daily reported.

Trump’s early morning tweet arrived as his administration reimposed sanctions on Iran, which the U.S. president has described as  "the most biting ever.’’

The United States announced on May 8 that it was withdrawing from the nuclear deal and would reimpose sanctions on Iran, in a move that drew criticism from Washington's European allies.

‘’... In November they ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!’’ Trump said on Twitter.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke out against the U.S. decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran in July, saying that Iran was a strategic ally, just like the United states, adding that cutting ties with a neighbour and ally would contradict Ankara’s understanding of independence.

‘’We buy products from them which heat up my country throughout the winter,’’ Erdoğan said, in apparent reference to natural gas.

Ankara imported nearly 55 percent of its crude from Iran in the first four months of the year – more than 3 million tonnes, according to the latest data from Turkey’s energy regulator EDPK,  with Iranian oil supply to Turkey corresponding to roughly 45 percent of imports.

The Turkish administration has been directly implicated in violating Iran sanctions in the past. Turkey’s Halkbank made international headlines last December with the trial in New York of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an executive at the bank. The trial included testimony from Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader at the centre of the sanction-busting scheme, that implicated top Turkish officials including Erdoğan and government ministers.

A U.S. federal court found the top-level Halkbank executive guilty on five counts including conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to defraud U.S. banks, and one count of bank fraud in January of this year.

The Trump administration last week announced sanctions against two Turkish ministers over the ongoing detention of U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson on charges of membership in terrorist organizations.

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