US doubles tariffs amid Turkish currency crisis

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Berat Albayrak, Turkey's treasury and finance minister, adresses a conference in Istanbul on Aug. 10, 2018, as a financial shockwave ripped through Turkey, with its currency nosediving on concerns about its economic policies and a dispute with the US. (AP Photo/Mucahid Yapici)
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Traders and financial professionals work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) ahead of the closing bell on August 10, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down nearly 200 points on Friday, as markets reacted negatively to a sharp plunge in Turkish currency, the Lira, as Turkey heads toward a potential financial crisis. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)
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A man counts his Turkish liras outside a currency exchange shop in an Istanbul's market on Aug. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Mucahid Yapici)
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A man walks out of a currency exchange shop in an Istanbul's market on Aug. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Mucahid Yapici)
Updated 11 August 2018
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US doubles tariffs amid Turkish currency crisis

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan" “We will not lose the economic war” with the West. 
  • Expert says pastor's case intertwined with broader economic crisis in Turkey, which has been developing over many years

ANKARA: While Turkey endures one of the worst currency crises in its history, with the lira hitting record lows, US President Donald Trump on Friday announced a doubling of tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from Turkey. 
The announcement is the latest escalation in a diplomatic spat over the detention in Turkey of an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, on espionage and terror-related charges. Talks between Turkish and US authorities collapsed on Thursday. 
“I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar!” Trump tweeted.
“Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!” 
Turkey is the eighth-largest steel producer in the world and the sixth-largest steel exporter to the US. Turkish steel exports to the US stood at $1.1 billion last year.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told worshippers after Friday prayers that the country “will not lose the economic war” with the West. 
“They say things like foreign exchange rates. Get over it. We will keep growing despite attacks,” he added.
“No one can push the Turkish people… with fines, threats or sanctions. Solving this problem (over Brunson) is only possible through calm negotiations and diplomacy.” 
Turkish businesses that operate based on foreign currencies are expected to be hit hard by the weakening lira. 
The Istanbul Chamber of Industry urged the government on Friday to take “urgent” measures. 
Some experts say mismanagement of macroeconomic challenges, weak monetary policy, high inflation and expansionary fiscal policies are the biggest problems facing Turkey’s economy. 
Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, Ankara director of the German Marshall Fund of the US, said Trump’s tweet reaffirmed his administration’s determination to go to great lengths to free Brunson, in a way that will hurt Erdogan’s proud image.  “We have a rhetorical question in Turkey: ‘Do you want to eat grapes or do you want to beat up the winegrower?’ In this case, Trump doesn’t sound like it’s grapes he’s after,” Unluhisarcikli told Arab News. 
Some experts say to address its larger economic problems, Turkey may have to resort to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  
Howard Eissenstat, a Turkey expert at St. Lawrence University and senior non-resident fellow at the Project on Middle East Democracy, said two issues have become intertwined.  
“The first is the crisis with the US, which has come to a head in the past few weeks. The second is the broader economic crisis in Turkey, which has been developing over many years,” he told Arab News. 
The spat with the US has clearly exacerbated the larger economic crisis, but resolving the former will not fix the latter, Eissenstat said.
“On the other hand, allowing the US crisis to spin out of control will clearly make the broader issues more acute,” he added.
“The US wants to keep Turkey as an ally, but at this point Turkey will have to take aggressive action to alleviate US concerns, which have been festering for a long time,” he said.
“It’s possible that Erdogan will do so; he has reversed himself in the past. But I don’t expect him to do so, at least in the short term,” Eissenstat added.
“This spat has become too public and too wrapped up with Erdogan’s deeply felt belief that the US is trying to undermine him.”


Israel destroys house of Palestinian charged with killing soldier

Updated 44 min ago
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Israel destroys house of Palestinian charged with killing soldier

  • Israeli forces arrived at the El Amari camp before dawn on Saturday, sealed off the four-story Abu Humaid house and destroyed it
  • Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2014

EL AMARI REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank: Israeli forces on Saturday demolished the family home of a Palestinian charged with killing an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank, the military and witnesses said.
Israel says Islam Abu Humaid, 32, threw a 40 pound (18 kg) marble plate from a rooftop, killing an Israeli special forces sergeant, Ronen Lubarsky, 20, during a May arrest raid in El Amari refugee camp in the Palestinian city of Ramallah.
Israeli forces arrived at the El Amari camp before dawn on Saturday, sealed off the four-story Abu Humaid house and destroyed it, the military said in a statement.
The Abu Humaid family home has been destroyed before and rebuilt. Two other Abu Humaid sons are in Israeli custody, charged with the killings of five Israelis, and another two face lengthy incarceration for serious security offenses.
A sixth Abu Humaid son was killed by Israeli forces in 1994 after himself being involved in a deadly ambush against an Israeli intelligence officer in the West Bank.
According to the indictment against him, Islam Abu Humaid told interrogators that he wanted to avenge the injury of one of his brothers in a previous Israeli army raid.
“What can we do? This is an enemy who thinks that by doing such actions they will terrorize us and make us fear them,” said Islam’s mother, Latifa Abu Humaid.
“On the contrary, our animosity becomes stronger, and with it our perseverance and strength.”
Israeli rights groups have criticized family-home demolitions of Palestinian attackers as acts of vengeance and collective punishment.
Israel’s Supreme Court has largely upheld the demolition policy. Israeli officials have termed it both punitive and a deterrence to potential attackers.
“The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) will continue operating in order to thwart terror and maintain security in the area,” the military said.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry condemned the demolition.
Tensions flared this week in the West Bank with a string of Palestinian attacks that killed an Israeli baby and two Israeli soldiers and Israeli forces shot dead four suspected Palestinian assailants.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that in response to the attacks, slated demolitions would be sped up.
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2014.