Another day, another angry rant by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan aimed at the US, who on Sunday vowed Ankara would abandon the dollar in transactions with Russia and other countries, accusing the US of behaving like “wild wolves.”
“America behaves like wild wolves. Don’t believe them,” Erdogan told a business forum during the Turkey-Kyrgyzstan Business Forum in Kyrgyzstan, according to AFP.
Erdogan also echoed the dedollarization call from Russia’s deputy foreign minister Serkey Ryabkov, saying said that Turkey country was in negotiations with Russia over non-dollar trade.
“Using the dollar only damages us. We will not give up. We will be victorious,” Erdogan told the meeting, attended by Kyrgyz and Turkish businessmen as well as government officials.
On August 24, Moscow said it would respond to Washington’s latest sanctions by accelerating efforts to abandon the American currency in trade transactions: “The time has come when we need to go from words to actions, and get rid of the dollar as a means of mutual settlements, and look for other alternatives,” said Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov.
“Thank God, this is happening, and we will speed up this work,” Ryabkov said, explaining the move would come in addition to other “retaliatory measures” as a response to a growing list of US sanctions.
Erdogan also said that Ankara doesn’t need permission from anyone to purchase Russian S-400 missile systems, just days after the US once again warned the country against buying the hotly discussed air-defense system.
“We have made S-400 deal with Russia. Someone is offended by it. We don’t need permission from anybody,” the Turkish leader said in Kyrgyzstan.
Last Tuesday US Defense Secretary James Mattis warned NATO-member Turkey against buying the systems. “Turkey had a choice to make, a sovereign decision to make. But clearly Turkey bringing a Russian anti-aircraft, anti-missile system into a NATO country, we cannot integrate that into NATO,” Mattis said. “Yes, it does concern us and we do not recommend that.”
Ankara and Washington are not locking horns over Turkey’s decision to buy Russian S-400 missile systems, although neither the US nor NATO approves of the move.
At the same time Erdogan’s government is also pushing ahead with the purchase of American F-35 jets, which US lawmakers are trying to block due to Ankara’s S-400 deal.
Erdogan’s statement shows that Turkey is shaping its defense policy without any regard to the US, Igor Korotchenko, editor-in-chief of National Defense magazine, told RT. For Turkey, the purchase of these weapons means getting “a new geopolitical status of a country” that is able to fully control its airspace and, if necessary, use such weapons against its enemies, he said.
The US understands Turkey’s intentions and that’s why it has recently showed “unprecedented attempts” to intimidate the country, Korotchenko added.
The recent statement of the Turkish president is “an attempt to strengthen [Ankara’s] positions” in the international arena, Dmitry Abzalov, head of the Center for Strategic Communications think tank, explained to RT, noting that relations between Ankara and Washington have “seriously deteriorated.”
Ties between NATO members Washington and Ankara hit a new low last month as US President Donald Trump announced steep new tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium in response to the detention of an American pastor in Turkey. As a result, the Turkish lira crashed, shedding a quarter of its value last month as the trade war with the US ratcheted up.
Russia meanwhile saw its ruble tumble to two-year lows in August after the US announced fresh sanctions in connection with a nerve agent poisoning incident in the British city of Salisbury.
Erdogan also used the visit to ex-Soviet Kyrgyzstan to demand the Central Asian country of six million people relinquish all ties to Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric and educator Ankara accuses of fomenting a coup in 2016. Speaking Sunday, Erdogan said Turkish businesses should invest in Kyrgyzstan but “may face barriers from FETO,” the term Ankara uses to describe the network of people and institutions linked to Gulen.
The refusal of the United States to extradite 77-year-old Gulen whom Erdogan has accused of being behind the “failed” 2016 presidential coup attempt, to face trial in Turkey is one of several sore points that have plagued a once-strong bilateral relationship.
Gulen, whose Hizmet movement has led to the creation of schools in dozens of countries including Kyrgyzstan has always denied any links to the 2016 coup attempt, however, since July 2016, over 55,000 people from the so-called “shadow state” have been arrested over coup links in Turkey, while more than 140,000 public sector employees have been sacked or suspended.