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August 3, 2018 No.
7606

Turkish Public, Government Officials React To U.S. Sanctions: 'Turkey Will Respond In Kind To America'

On August 1, 2018, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control placed sanctions on Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül. This was done to pressure Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's government to release from house arrest in Turkey American pastor Andrew Brunson,[1] who is accused by the Turkish government of membership in the organization of Fethullah Gülen and who has been detained there since October 2016. Gülen resides in the U.S. and the Turkish government has been demanding his extradition to Turkey since July 2016. The Turkish government is also accusing Brunson of working with the Partiya Karkeren Kurdistane (PKK), a Kurdish group considered a terrorist organization by both the U.S. State Department[2] and the Turkish government.[3] In the days following the announcement, Turkish government officials across party lines and members of the Turkish public condemned the sanctions.

Following are reactions from Turkish social media and government officials.

"The Weapon That The West Fears Most Is The Unity Of The Ummah"

On August 1-2, 2018, the hashtag "#WeWillNotSubmitToAmerica" was trending on Twitter in Turkey. One Twitter user tweeted the hashtag and a cartoon showing a boxing glove bearing the Turkish flag knocking out Uncle Sam. The tweet was accompanied by a note in English: "Hey Yankee Come To Real Ring."[4]

On August 2, 2018, a cartoon by Mikail Çiftçi was shared widely on social media. The cartoon showed a hand made up of the flags of countries with large Muslim populations holding a large club with "unity" written on it, as U.S. President Donald Trump opens his jacket to show a small club with "sanctions" written on it. The cartoon was originally tweeted with a note: "The weapon that the West fears most is the unity of the ummah."[5]

Some Turks tweeted calls for a boycott of American companies,[6] while others on Twitter organized a protest to be held August 3, 2018, at 11:00 a.m. outside the U.S. Embassy in Ankara.[7]

 

"Turkey Is Not A Country That Submits To Pressure Or Gets In Line Because Of Threats"

On August 1, the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying: "We severely protest the sanctions that the U.S. Department of the Treasury has announced about our country. The decision made targeting our two respected ministers is neither in accordance with the dignity of the state, nor can it be explained with the concepts of law and justice. There is no doubt that this decision, which carries the quality of disrespectfully interfering with our system, is against the essence of our relations with the USA and will do great harm to the constructive efforts to solve the problems between the two countries. We call on the USA to turn back from this wrong decision. This aggressive manner, which will serve no purpose, will without delay be given a response in kind."[8]

On August 1, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu tweeted: "The USA's sanctioning of two of our ministers will not go unanswered. We will not be able to solve our problems so long as the U.S. government does not understand that it will not be able to achieve its unlawful demands by this method."[9] On August 2, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay tweeted: "The latest developments have shown the world once more that being a great country is not the same as economic, military, or geographic greatness. Being a great country requires acting according to international law, being bound to agreements that are made, being loyal to the principles of justice and prestige, holding the benefit of the people over the benefit of a small groups, and always standing by the oppressed. We, with our flag, our homeland, and our nation, are a great country. We will not hesitate even for a moment to do what is necessary to be a great country under the leadership of our honorable president."[10]

On August 2, four major Turkish political parties issued a joint statement saying: "With the common solidarity and decisiveness of our people, we say 'no' to America's threats."[11] These four parties were the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP) of Turkish President Erdoğan, the Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi (CHP), which is the leading opposition party and the AKP's chief rival, the Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi (MHP), and the İYİ Party.

On July 31, before the sanctions were formally announced but after President Trump had declared that they would be imposed, Turkish Presidential Press Secretary İbrahim Kalın said: "Turkey will never give credit to any threat or to any threatening language... Turkey is not a country that can be easily discarded. Everyone should know this. Whether it is the matter of the F-35, or other matters, Turkey is not without alternatives. With regard to the Pastor Brunson issue, everyone must respect the ongoing judicial process."[12]

On August 2, Bekir Bozdağ, head of the Turkish parliament's Constitutional Commission, said: "Turkey is not bound or beholden to the United States. Turkey is not at all without alternatives. Those who have viewed Turkey as without alternatives or bound or beholden to themselves have always been mistaken and have lost. The U.S. government cannot get what it wants from Turkey by an arrogant, unjust method that is against international law. Turkey is not a country that submits to pressure or gets in line because of threats. Pressure, threats, and sanctions will not dismantle Turkey. Turkey will respond in kind to America."[13]

"The Strategic Partnership [Between Turkey And The United States]... Should Unilaterally Be Declared To Be Dissolved By Turkey... [Turkey] Should Develop All Over The World A Global Resistance Front Against America The Global Bandit"

On August 2, Mehmet Yavuz, leader of the Islamist Hüda Par party, said about the sanctions: "Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952. Everyone knows the effect of NATO, under the guidance of America, on all of the blows that have taken place in Turkey. Together with July 15 [i.e. the July 2016 attempted coup], America's role in these blows has been openly revealed. Considering these historical facts, Turkey must not retreat in the face of this most recent sanction decision. A step backward would mean discomfiture and despicableness for Turkey... The government should close the American bases in Turkey, preferably Incirlik Airbase. The strategic partnership [between Turkey and the U.S.], which has de facto been dissolved by the U.S., should unilaterally be declared to be dissolved by Turkey, and Turkey should enter into solidarity with countries, especially Islamic countries, that are the target of America the Global Bandit. And it should develop all over the world a global resistance front against America the Global Bandit."[14]

On August 2, Öztürk Yılmaz, deputy leader of the CHP, said: "It needs to be seen that the Cold War era alliance with the USA has been dissolved and a new relational plane needs to be established."[15] AKP spokesman Mahir Ünal said: "It would be wrong to see this sanction decision as being against the [Turkish] government or against two of our ministers. This is an aggressive position against the state of the Republic of Turkey."[16]

On August 2, Devlet Bahçeli, leader of the nationalist MHP, said that "this situation is the concretized form of ignominy," and that the sanctions were "legally invalid, morally rotten..." He said that "the U.S. government crossed the red line a long time ago," and that "those who want a priest should be prepared to give a priest [i.e. Fethullah Gülen]."[17]

"We Have Some Property In America; FETÖ, We Will Not Leave It There – We Are Going To Get It!"

On August 1, Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül, one of the two ministers on whom the sanctions were placed, tweeted: "I never thought of anything but living and dying on this soil. Not in America nor in any other country do I have [so much as] a planted tree or a single cent of money. If it is granted to me, maybe one day I will get a small olive grove in my hometown of Gaziantep."[18] On August 1, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, the other of the two ministers on whom the sanctions were placed, tweeted: "We have some property in America; FETÖ [Fethullahist Terror Organization, i.e. the followers of Fethullah Gülen]. We will not leave it there. We are going to get it!"[19]

On August 2, member of parliament Ali Muhittin Taşdoğan, of the MHP, said: "If anyone should be sanctioned, it's America. But if [America] really loves its priest, there should be an exchange of criminals and spies as there was in the Cold War. Our state may consider such an exchange... America should return [to Turkey] the one who gives instructions to drop bombs [i.e. Fetullah Gülen]... I guess the American authorities do not know what it means to threaten a Turk, nor what it means to threaten someone from Gaziantep. These are empty threats. America should quit hiding, protecting, and guarding the one who gives instructions to rain bombs on our hill. It should return that individual."[20]

On August 2, Turkish Speaker of Parliament and former Prime Minister Binalı Yıldırım said that the sanctions were "illegal and extremely arbitrary. We harshly condemn this indicator of a manner of disrespect toward Turkey's judicial processes and expect that this error will be reversed."[21]

 

[1] Home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm453, August 1, 2018.

[2] State.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/123085.htm, accessed August 3, 2018.

[3] Terorarananlar.pol.tr/, accessed August 3, 2018.

[4] Twitter.com/lamazisoplio/status/1024952501286723585, August 2, 2018.

[5] Twitter.com/mikailciftci63/status/1024929784160243712, August 2, 2018.

[6] Twitter.com/haydisuradan/status/1024945056057380864, August 2, 2018.

[7] Twitter.com/_aliyalcin_/status/1024981611924860929, August 2, 2018.

[8] Mfa.gov.tr/no_-207_-abd-hazine-bakanliginin-ulkemizle-ilgili-olarak-acikladigi-yaptirim-karari-hk.tr.mfa, August 1, 2018.

[9] Twitter.com/MevlutCavusoglu/status/1024750740386902016, August 1, 2018.

[10] Twitter.com/fuatoktay06/status/1024920015043289088, August 2, 2018; Twitter.com/fuatoktay06/status/1024920247818772485, August 2, 2018; Twitter.com/fuatoktay06/status/1024920400709513216, August 2, 2018.

[11] Bbc.com/turkce/haberler-dunya-45040387, August 2, 2018.

[12] Tccb.gov.tr/cumhurbaskanligi-sozculugunden/1695/96038/cumhurbaskanligi-sozcusu-sayin-ibrahim-kalin-in-cumhurbaskanligi-kabinesi-toplantisi-sonrasinda-yaptigi-aciklama, July 31, 2018.

[13] Hurriyet.com.tr/bozdag-abd-yonetiminin-karari-akil-tutulmasid-40915742, August 2, 2018.

[14] Ilkha.com/haber/80506/turkiye-misli-ile-mukabelede-bulunmali, August 2, 2018.

[15] Cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/turkiye/1043487/ABD_nin_yaptirim_kararina_CHP_den_ilk_tepki.html, August 1, 2018.

[16] Gazetevatan.com/fuat-oktay-dan-abd-nin-yaptirim-kararina-tepki-1187450-siyaset/, August 2, 2018.

[17] Ntv.com.tr/turkiye/son-dakika-bahceliden-abdnin-yaptirim-kararina-tepki,p6UliR61pk6PKK4Ed-9-Ww, August 2, 2018.

[18] Twitter.com/abdulhamitgul/status/1024755098927484928, August 1, 2018.

[19] Twitter.com/suleymansoylu/status/1024897689589309440, August 1, 2018.

[20] Haberturk.com/gaziantep-haberleri/62541247-mhp-milletvekili-tasdogandan-abdnin-yaptirim-kararina-sert-tepki, August 2, 2018.

[21] Hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/abdnin-yaptirim-kararina-tbmm-baskani-yildirimdan-tepki-40916099, August 2, 2018.