US Threatens Further Turkey Sanctions if Pastor Not Freed Soon

The Turkish government has been scrambling to minimise the impact of the devaluation of the lira

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin threatened further sanctions against Turkey if it fails to release detained American pastor Andrew Brunson.

The Turkish lira was slightly lower on Friday after the USA warned Ankara should expect more sanctions over the detention of an American evangelical pastor.

In response to the weakness, the Turkish banking watchdog has taken steps to stabilize the currency, limiting futures transactions for offshore investors and lowering limits on swap transactions.

The US warned Thursday it would levy more sanctions on the troubled Turkish economy if Ankara does not soon release a jailed American pastor described by President Donald Trump as a "hostage". They came out. They want to hold our wonderful pastor. "We will pay nothing for the release of an innocent man, but we are cutting back on Turkey!" he tweeted.

The US insists the pastor, a long-time Turkish resident, is "a victim of unfair and unjust detention". Sheikh Tamim was the first foreign leader to call Erdogan after the aborted coup in Turkey in 2016, and Turkey - along with Iran - is one of the few countries to support Qatar against the boycott by the Saudi-led Anti-Terror Quartet over Doha's financing of terrorism.

Brownback told Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, on his national radio program Washington Watch Tuesday that the USA has tried to gain Brunson's release through diplomatic efforts but now feels it is necessary to take a tougher stance.

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Mr Erdogan wrote in the New York Times earlier that unless the United States changed course, Turkey would look for new friends and allies.

Around the same time as Mnuchin's comments, President Trump intervened on Tweeted that Turkey has "taken advantage of the United States for many years".

Last Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump upped the ante by doubling U.S. tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel imports. Those sanctions caused great turmoil in financial markets, and contributed to the huge slump seen by the Turkish lira in the last two weeks.

While Erdogan has said Turkey would respond to the sanctions by boycotting USA goods, Aljazerra reported Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is sending a more positive message but cautioned about the Trump administration on its tone in future negotiations.

"Qatar has pledged Dollars 15 billion of direct investments in Turkey", presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter yesterday. The crisis has been precipitated by investor alarm about President Tayyip Erdogan's influence over monetary policy.

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