ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday accused the US of exchanging its “strategic NATO ally with a pastor,” remarks that questioned why Washington was seeking to free its citizens detained by Ankara, including Pastor Andrew Brunson who has become the eye of a diplomatic storm between the two nations.
“They are threatening us. [They] can never bring this people to your line with threats. We care about the law, the language of the law,” he said about the US policy during a rally in the Black Sea city of Ordu hit by floods that harmed hundreds of homes and businesses.
Turkish officials insist the outcome of Brunson’s case solely relies on the judiciary, a claim the US has refused to buy in the light of Erdogan’s earlier suggestions to swap him with Turkish opposition exiles residing in the US.
He reiterated his call on citizens to change US Dollars and Euros for the Turkish Lira in the face of a sharp plunge his country’s currency witnessed in financial markets this week.
Lira tested an all-time low of 6.95 in value against the USD, in a sign of a further economic crisis.
Although he downplayed the Dollar’s strength, he once again summoned God to be on the Turkish side against the US.
In a Friday opinion piece for the New York Times, though, he used a milder tone to restore ties before it is too late, reminding of long-standing relations the US established with Turkey over half a century ago upon its accession into NATO.
NATO aligned with Turkey after the Soviet Union, under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, demanded from the latter several provinces in the northeast of the country free use of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits.
Turkey, he wrote, could turn to “other friends and allies,” if the US continued its more hawkish policy vis a vis Ankara, without elaborating who those friends and allies would be.
Still, he went on to state Turkey acted on its own in the past despite US objections, such as in its invasions of Northern Cyprus in 1974 and Afrin this year in Syrian Kurdistan.
His chief advisor and spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin pointed out more blatantly that the US might lose Turkey for good.
“The US runs the risk of losing Turkey as a whole. The entire Turkish public is against US policies that disregard Turkey’s legitimate security demands,” Kalin, also a spokesperson for Erdogan, wrote for the pro-government Daily Sabah newspaper.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany