The growing tension between Turkey and the United States in recent years is well known;
To the already existing tension over the US support for the PYD-YPG, an offshoot of the PKK terrorist organization in northeastern Syria, Ankara and Washington’s “standing in different camps” on Sweden’s NATO membership and the Gaza issue have recently been added.
While the sale of F-16 fighter jets promised to Ankara by the US administration has been “frozen” by the US Congress, “economic disagreements” have now begun to surface.
Critical visit by US Treasury official
US Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson’s visit to Turkey, centered on the Russia-Ukraine war and the Gaza crisis, is a concrete example of this. Nelson had previously visited Turkey and provided detailed information to both the Turkish government and private sector representatives about the sanctions imposed by the US administration on Russia. Indeed, following Nelson’s visit in the first weeks of 2023, the US Treasury imposed sanctions on some Turkish companies or individuals in connection with Russia.
Ankara has recently taken heed of Washington’s warnings and tightened measures on a range of issues, from Russian payment systems to the activities of Russian-registered aircraft in Turkey. However, Ankara’s measures were apparently not deemed “sufficient” by Washington, as Nelson has scheduled a second visit to Turkey.
It should be noted here;
American officials do not come to Ankara so often to discuss bilateral political relations. A sign of this is that while US Secretary of State Blinken visited Middle Eastern countries not once, but several times after the Gaza crisis erupted, he came to Turkey only on his second tour, and only after being reprimanded by Turkish officials. Add to this the fact that US President Joe Biden has not extended any invitation to the Turkish President, despite the fact that he has been in the White House for three years and Erdoğan even said “I guess Biden will host us from now on”.
International ‘task force’ against Hamas financing
Nelson’s second visit to Turkey in the same year seems to have added a “Hamas file” to the Russian file.
It is also significant that the visit comes just days after the US announced the establishment of an “international task force” with a group of Western countries that recognize Hamas as a “terrorist organization.” According to the US Treasury Department’s statement, the task force, which was established with the participation of the financial intelligence units of Australia, Canada, Estonia, France, Germany, Israel, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, Switzerland, the UK and the US, aims to trace the money going to Hamas and “take joint action” to stop the flow of money.
It is no secret that Hamas has established “creative” financial systems in Middle Eastern countries in order to finance its war against Israel and to circumvent the US sanctions that have placed it on the “terrorist” list; the Western press has recently been reporting that these “creative” money collection and transfer systems have also extended to Turkey.
Following President Erdoğan’s statement that “we do not recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization”, Brian Nelson’s hasty visit to both Ankara and Istanbul to meet with the private sector should be read in this light.
Another interesting development related to the timing of Nelson’s visit was the news of the release of Metin Topuz, a US consulate employee who was arrested in Turkey right after the July 15 coup attempt, a serious issue in Ankara-Washington political relations.
Coincidence? Given the impact of the judicial process over Pastor Brunson on US-Turkey relations, the question arises, of course.