Relations between Turkey and US are reaching crisis point once again, after Ankara formally ratified NATO that Swedish accession will not be ratified in time for the upcoming NATO summit. According to a reliable expert PA Turkey interviewed, in retaliation the Biden White House canceled an invitation for Erdogan. Relations will be tested once again, as Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson travels to Muscat, Oman as well as Ankara and Istanbul, Türkiye, “to further U.S. efforts to deny Hamas and other terrorist organizations the ability to raise and move funds”.
Washington has imposed sanctions on about a dozen Turkish firms and some individuals for running an investment portfolio on behalf of Hamas or helping Russia evade sanctions. The US has also warned a number of Turkish companies about possible sanctions that may disrupt their ties with the Western financial system, the people said.
According to Bloomberg, Turkish-listed real estate investment trust Trend Gayrimenkul Yatirim Ortakligi was designated as part of the Palestinian militant group’s investment portfolio last year.
The US said the REIT was a “key component of Hamas’s global asset holdings.” Some shareholders of the company were recently sanctioned for allegedly providing support to the militant group. The entity’s shares have risen more than 30% in Istanbul trading this year, in line with a local index of its peers.
Nelson’s visit highlights the new challenges facing the already strained relationship between Turkey and the US. The Turkish government doesn’t see Hamas as a terror organization, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently described the group as an organization fighting for the liberation of the Palestinian people.
Comment: This is probably not retaliation
While the timing of Brian Nelson’s visit is suggestive of retaliation or threats thereof to ensure Turkey speedily ratifies Swedish membership, this is probably not the primary cause. Like most countries that border Russia, Turkey has a large number of “bad apples” which violate sanctions by re-exporting dual-use goods procured from Europe for profit. PA Turkey’s sources state that there is no evidence of systemic violations or acquiescence by the Erdogan government for such acts.
Nevertheless, The American administration now has various points of leverage to pressure Turkey on Sweden and other topics of disagreement, such as the treatment of the Syrian Kurdish political-military entity PYD/YPG, the territories of which Turkey frequently raids or bombs. The Halkbank Iran sanctions violations case due for trial in a lower court comes to mind immediately.
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