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ANKARA-WASHINGTON SKIRMISHES

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By: Mushtaq Hurra

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has become the ultimate eyesore for America given his liberal foreign policy, opposition to Alsisi regime in Egypt, displeasure over sanctions on Iran, patronization of democratic forces in Middle east and the open support for Palestinian people. Skirmishes between the two NATO allies reached to its climax when US president Donald Trump declared sanctions over Turkish minister of justice Mr. AbdulHamit Gul and Interior ministry head Mr. Suleyman Soylu.Turkish president Erdogan reacted in the same manner and ordered the confiscation of personel assets of US secretary of state department and the US minister of justice.

Turkey has neither succumbed to American pressure tactic nor discontinued its support to besieged Palestinian people through Mediterranean Sea though one of its boats was attacked in 2010 by Israeli naval forces resulting in the death of ten volunteers. Very recently, an Italian boat carrying medicine for Palestinian people was stopped by Israeli Navy and taken to the port of Ashdod.A swedish boat carrying essentials for beleaguered Palestinians meted the same fate almost a week ago.The detained volunteers vowed to continue their efforts for besieged Palestinians.They urged the world to take necessary steps for disease and hunger stricken people in Palestine.The role of many concerned UN agencies to safeguard the basic rights of Palestinian people is confined to papers and speeches.Many human rights watchdogs are acting as mere spectators.US president Donald Trump believes that Turkey and Erdogan is behind all these provocations against America.

It is pertinent to mention here that Recep Tayyip Erdogan has brazenly opposed the American move to dethrone Mursi, and has almost never recognized Alsisi as Egyptian president.Turkey has openly castigated America for imposing sanctions on Iran.Turkey's healthy ties with Russia is greatly adding to America's rage against it.

Detention of pastor Andrew Craig Brunson of US is believed to be the main reason behind the fresh skirmishes between Turkey and USA.Pastor Brunson is allegedly involved in the unsuccessful coup d'etat in Turkey on 15 July 2016.Turkish government believes that Pastor Brunson had hatched the conspiracy with the exiled Turkish leader Fetullah Gulen who is Presently putting up in Pennsylvania USA.Gulen was once a close aide of president Erdogan but became arch rivals later.Turkey has blamed US airbase Incrilik in Turkey for extending support to military rebels in the failed coup of 2016.Even opposition Republican party of Turkey has admitted America's alleged role in the military uprising of 2016.Its Presidential candidate Muharrem Ince had assured the closure of Incrilik subject to mandate.

Turkish government tightened its noose against the people involved in the military revolt of 2016.Thousands of rebel army men and their bosses were arrested.Turkey's intelligece agencies found 50 year old pastor Andrew Craig Brunson involved in the uprising.Brunson, a pastor has been living in Turkey for the last 23 years.He often used to visit US military airbase Incrilik in connection with religious sermons.Brunson is believed to have healthy ties with Fetullah Gulen.Turkish prosecution stated that Mr. Brunson had allegedly developed relations with the banned Turkish militant group , the Kurdistan workers party.Pastor Brunson is believed to have re-organized the banned militia band of Turkey.If these allegations are proved in the court against pastor Brunson , then he can get a 35 year long term.Serkan Golge, a NASA scientist and three Turk citizens working in American ambassy at Ankara, have been detained on the same charges.

The then US president Barrack Obama had reacted against the detention of the pastor in a diplomatic tone.US department of state had demanded an American counsel for the pastor to carry out the suit in a transparent way which Turkish court of law granted without without any question. Pastor Brunson is at liberty to meet anyone, have media briefings, even Turkish court has no objection in his house arrest instead of jail given his deteriorated health.

US diplomats and important officials of the ministry of justice attend the court during the hearings. Thom Tillis - the senator from North Carolina attended the first hearing of pastor's law suit in the court.

America's stand on the issue changed with Donald Trump at the helm of affairs.US senator from Okalhama - James Lankford warned Turkey of dire consequences if the pastor is not released.Vice president Mr. Mike pence has termed the detention of a pious and God-fearing man very unfortunate, and demanded his early release. American vice president appealed United Nations human rights committee to take cognizance of Turkey's anti-christan policies. It is important to note here that US had bade adeu to this committee for castigating Israel of its brazen violation of human rights in Palestine.In a tweet, president Trump attributed pastor's detention to an intervention in religious affairs of Christians in Turkey.Donald Trump dared Ankara of sanctions if the pastor is not released.

Turkey has rejected America's stand , and said that president Erdogan has no role in judiciary. Spokesperson of Turkey's foreign ministry has said that the pastor is treated according to judicial laws of the country and let judiciary decide his fate. In reply to President Trump's tweet, President said US threats can't weaken the resolve of Turkish government and its people. President Erdogan reiterated his stand that Ankara is ready to release the pastor if Washington will handover the traitor Fetullah Gulen to Turkey. Right after president Trump's threatening tweet, Washington made initiation of sanctions against Turkey. Incumbent we Whitehouse press secretary Sarah Elizabeth Huckabee Sanders said that sanctions have been imposed upon Turk minister for justice Abdul Hamit Gul and Interior minister Suleyman Soylu.

Meanwhile, court has rejected the bail plea of the pastor and summoned him to attend the court on 12th of October 2018.Turkey's Jewish and Christian leaders have condemned America's approach to defame Turkey's secular fabric.In a press briefing, the leaders said that every religion is enjoying absolute freedom in Turkey.

In reply to US sanctions on its two ministers, President Erdogan has ordered the confiscation of personal assets of his two Minister's American counterparts.

America is enraged over Turkey's retaliation.The voice to take stringent action against Ankara is getting shriller.America may stop the bargain of F-35 fighter jets with Turkey but its defense minister is opposing the proposed move.Military sources of Washington Stated that Turkey is an important ally of NATO, and any confrontation with it can halt its decisive battle in Syria.Now, America wishes to solve this issue amicably.In a joint ministerial session of ASEAN in Malaysia, last week, America's secretary of state department Mr. Mike pompeo and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusgle me delibrated on this important issue.Briefing the media, after the meeting, Mr. Pompeo said that both the countries will solve the issue bilaterally but was quick to change his stance in an onboard press conference. Mr. Pompeo asked Turkey to release the pastor, the NASA scientist and others allegedly involved in the case.His Turkish counterpart thanked him sarcastically and said that Ankara will not make any truce.Political analysts and observers believe that Trump and his deputy have exaggerated the issue and flown it beyond the proportions.It may lead to bitterness it Christian-Muslim unity and brotherhood in the country, and may prove very harmful for NATO, Turkey and America.

The writer teaches at Middle school Poshwari and can be reached at mushtaqhurra143@gmail.com

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