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szdaily -> World -> 
Erdogan sanctions US officials in tit-for-tat row over pastor
    2018-08-06  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

TURKISH President Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday Turkey would impose sanctions on two U.S. officials as retaliation for a similar move by Washington, hitting back in an unprecedented row between the NATO allies.

Turkey’s holding of pastor Andrew Brunson on terror-related charges for almost two years has sparked one of the most intense crises between Washington and Ankara since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

But in his first comments on the dispute since Washington imposed the sanctions Wednesday, Erdogan also appeared keen to ward off any further escalation by saying that neither side had an interest in a “lose-lose” scenario.

“Today I will give our friends instructions to freeze the assets in Turkey of the American justice and interior ministers, if they have any such assets,” Erdogan said in a televised speech.

The U.S. attorney general is Jeff Sessions and while the United States does not have an interior ministry similar to Turkey, the Secretary of the Interior is Ryan Zinke and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security is Kirstjen Nielsen.

Erdogan’s announcement was a response to Washington’s decision to impose sanctions on Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul over Brunson’s detention.

The sanctions freeze any property or assets on U.S. soil held by the two ministers, and bar U.S. citizens from doing business with them.

Turkish ministers have denied having any assets in the U.S. and it is highly unlikely the American officials would have assets in Turkey. But analysts say the sanctions are still of critical importance.

“Although it is unlikely the sanctions will have much practical effect in either case, it is significant and unprecedented that two NATO allies have sanctioned members of each other’s government,” Amanda Sloat, a former State Department official and now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said.

The Turkish lira, which has plunged in value this year, has already reached the five to one dollar mark for the first time in history over the sanctions.

“There is a risk of more sanctions to come... which could hit more directly at the heart of Turkish Government interests and which have the potential to cause a run on the lira,” Anthony Skinner, director of Middle East and North Africa at risk management consultants Verisk Maplecroft, said.(SD-Agencies)

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