Continetti: Erdogan Using Tariffs as Cover for 'Economic Mess,' Jailing of American Pastor

August 15, 2018

Washington Free Beacon editor in chief Matthew Continetti on Wednesday said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is using tariffs as a cover for the mess he's created in Turkey.

Continetti appeared on Fox News' "Special Report" to discuss multiple issues, including Turkey's announcement of more tariffs on U.S. imports into Turkey. Host Bret Baier said that the Dow Jones Industrial Average took a dip earlier in the day likely stemming from the trade tensions with Turkey over the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was charged with supporting a group blamed for an attempted coup in 2016.

After National Review's Jonah Goldberg pointed out Turkey's debt trouble, Continetti said Turkey was getting closer to "marginal players" in the Middle East because of the problems Erdogan caused.

"You see Turkey move towards marginal players like Russia, like Qatar trying to create an alternative alliance structure to get Erdogan out of this jam. I don't think it will be very successful," Continetti said. "Erdogan is using these tariffs as cover for the fact that he's responsible for the economic mess that Turkey is in and he's responsible for holding Pastor Brunson."

"Whether these national security tariffs are the right move, we can't forget that Trump tried the other method. He tried having diplomatic negotiation and in fact believed that Erdogan was going to release the pastor and then Erdogan reversed himself, so that's why we've arrived at this place," Continetti added.

Qatar pledged to invest $15 billion in Turkey after a lunch between Erdogan and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the emir of Qatar, according to representatives of both governments. While the financial pledge is a small fraction of what Turkey would need to help their economy recover and pay its debts, the Turkish news media trumpeted the news as a victory for Erdogan.

Turkey also rejected a second legal appeal to release Brunson earlier Wednesday. The latest rejection follows Trump imposing 50 percent tariffs on imported Turkish steel last week after negotiations to release Brunson broke down.