Erdogan calls US sanctions on Turkey ‘stab in the back’ of Nato ally
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Donald Trump of waging “economic war against the entire world” and called the US decision to impose tariffs on Turkey a “stab in the back”, as the country’s currency crisis deepened.
Ankara has been hit by financial turmoil, with the lira plunging to record lows over concerns about the government’s economic policies and a diplomatic row with the US.
“The aim of the operation is to make Turkey surrender in all areas, from finance to politics,” the Turkish president told supporters in the Black Sea city of Trabzon.
“We are once again facing a political, underhand plot. With God’s permission we will overcome this."
Mr Erdogan, the country’s first executive president, has exasperated the crisis by urging the central bank not to raise interest rates, against International Monetary Fund advice.
However, Mr Erdogan and Berat Albayrak, finance chief and the president’s son-in-law, continue to blame outside forces for the drop of the lira, which recorded an all-time low against the dollar yesterday.
"You act on one side as a strategic partner, but on the other, you fire bullets into the foot of your strategic partner,” he said, referring to Washington.
"We are together in Nato and then you seek to stab your strategic partner in the back."
The president also accused “economic terrorists on social media” of sabotaging the lira.
Turkey on Monday announced it would take legal action against hundreds of social media accounts it said was “creating a negative perception” of the economy amid the ongoing plummet of the lira.
The interior minister said 346 social media accounts that posted comments about the weakening of the lira "in a provocative way" have been identified since August 7.
"They are truly a network of treason," Mr Erdogan said. "We will not give them the time of day… We will make those spreading speculations pay the necessary price".
He has threatened to seek new alliances – a veiled hint at closer ties with Russia, Qatar or China for support, which would further loosen the already weakened ties between a strategically vital Nato member and the west.
Experts, however, said they were sceptical that Turkey could find the support it needed from non-western countries.
Russia has its own problems, also under sanctions from the US. Qatar is currently under an economic blockade with neighbour Saudi Arabia and is a close ally of Washington.
Mevlut Cavusolgu, Turkey’s foreign minister, warned the US it would not achieve its aims by exerting pressure and imposing sanctions.
He called on the US to "remain loyal to ties based on traditional friendship and Nato alliance" with Turkey.
"We support diplomacy and negotiations but it is not possible for us to accept impositions," he said
His comments echoed those made by President Erdogan over the weekend. Writing in the New York Times, a broadsheet paper much loathed by US President Donald Trump, Mr Erdogan warned Turkey would “seek new friends” after the US “upset and annoyed” Ankara with the new sanctions.
Mr Erdogan told Mr Trump to respect its sovereignty “before it is too late”.
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