The US has lost its credibility since Donald Trump unleashed a global trade war, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, slamming Washington for sanctioning Turkey and trying to isolate Iran.
“The US has embarked on a false path of solving political problems not through negotiations, but through the language of blackmail and threats,” Erdogan told the Turkish parliament on Monday.
He said that Washington has “lost its credibility engaging in a trade war with the world” after Turkey, Russia, China, Iran and other countries were recently hit by American sanctions.
The Turkish leader singled out the situation with Iran, saying that threats of restoring US restrictions on the country after Trump withdrew from the landmark Iranian nuclear deal in May were “unfair.”
“It’s absolutely wrong to use sanctions when all the issues can be easily solved through monitoring, carried out by the international organizations,” he said, adding that restrictions against one state affect all of its neighbors in the region. He called such policy “ineffective.”
“It’s paramount for us that Iran isn’t isolated from political decisions that shape the future of the region,” Erdogan said.
He assured MPs that the Turkish economy “is strong enough and will not to succumb to threats and attacks” by the Americans.
Washington ignores the “sensitivity” of the Syrian issue for Ankara and “continues to cooperate with terrorist organizations,” the president said, referring to Kurdish militias, which were the chief US ally in fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). Ankara in particular considers the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to be a terrorist group. Erdogan said Turkey’s goal is to “completely clear” northern Iraq of Kurdish armed groups.
Relations between the two NATO allies have been deteriorating in recent years over Washington’s harboring of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames of masterminding a failed coup in 2016.The arrest of US pastor Andrew Brunson by Turkey in relation to that uprising and Erdogan’s plans to buy Russian S-400 missile systems only added fuel to fire.
The low point came in August when the Trump administration slapped Turkish steel and aluminum imports with 50-percent tariffs and blacklisted the country’s ministers of justice and the interior over human rights violations in relation to the Brunson case. The restrictions saw the Turkish national currency plummet, with Ankara replying by imposing its own tariffs on 22 types of American goods worth over $533 million.
“We will resolutely fight with this perverted consciousness, which tries to impose sanctions on us, justifying it by some kind of pastor,” Erdogan said.
Despite the strong language used, the president then expressed hope that “the US leadership will sooner or later change its wrong attitude towards our country” and that bilateral relations will normalize.