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Turkey Accuses U.S. Of Concocting ‘Underhand Plot’ To Weaken Economy

The Turkish lira hit a new low against the American dollar overnight before recovering slightly in early morning trading, as the diplomatic spat between Ankara and Washington continued to cause shock waves across markets in Europe and Asia. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused his United States counterpart Donald Trump of waging an economic war in the form of an “underhand plot,” after the latter’s move last Friday to hike tariffs on the import of Turkish aluminum and steel precipitated the lira’s free-fall. Turkey’s economy was already in a fragile state, with inflation reaching an estimated 15 percent in the debt-ridden country, and as investors grow weary of the government’s refusal to raise interest rates and overall perceived creeping authoritarianism. In an apparent bid to bypass the Trump administration and appeal directly to the American public, Erdogan this weekend wrote an op-ed in the New York Times warning that the dispute between the NATO allies—which has boiled over due to Turkey’s detention for nearly two years of American pastor Andrew Brunson—could lead to the full dissolution of ties and a shift eastwards by Ankara, including towards Russia, China and Iran. “Washington must give up the misguided notion that our relationship can be asymmetrical and come to terms with the fact that Turkey has alternatives,” Erdogan threatened in the article. “Failure to reverse this trend of unilateralism and disrespect will require us to start looking for new friends and allies.” Ankara claims that Brunson has ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and the so-called Gulenist movement, which Erdogan blames for a failed coup in 2016. The Turkish president repeatedly has voiced disapproval over the U.S.’ refusal to extradite Fethullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania; and also has publicly rued over Washington’s support for Kurdish YPG fighters in Syria, which Ankara views as an extension of the PKK.

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