Iran Vows To ‘Proudly Bypass’ US Sanctions

Donald Trump                                                                    Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani 

 

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said the Islamic republic “will proudly bypass sanctions” by the United States that took effect on Monday targeting the country’s oil and financial sectors.

“I announce that we will proudly bypass your illegal, unjust sanctions because it’s against international regulations,” Rouhani said in a televised speech.

“We are in a situation of economic war, confronting a bullying power. I don’t think that in the history of America, someone has entered the White House who is so against law and international conventions,” he added.

The measures described by Washington as “the toughest sanctions ever” follow US President Donald Trump’s controversial decision in May to abandon the multi-nation nuclear deal with Tehran.

The latest tranche aims to significantly cut Iran’s oil exports — which have already fallen by around one million barrels a day since May — and cut it off from international finance.

The United States has given temporary exemptions to eight countries — including India, Japan and Turkey — to continue buying oil in a bid to avoid disturbing their economies and global markets.

But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed to push Iran’s oil sales to zero.

“Watch what we do. Watch as we’ve already taken more crude oil off the market than any time in the previous history,” he told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

Trump’s administration says it wants a new deal with Iran that curbs its interventions around the Middle East and missile programme — demands that have been flatly rejected by Tehran.

“Constantly they are sending us messages saying ‘Let’s sit and negotiate.’ Negotiations for what?” said Rouhani.

“First, you respect the negotiations we already concluded, so that there are grounds for the next negotiations.”

‘Act on your commitments’ 

Rouhani said four countries had approached him during his visit to New York for the UN General Assembly in September, offering to mediate with the US but he turned them down.

“There is no need for mediation. There is no need for all these messages. Act on your commitments, and we will sit and talk,” he said.

Iran’s economy was already suffering from major structural problems — including major banking issues — before Trump walked out of the nuclear deal.

But Trump’s announcement in May helped fuel a run on Iran’s currency that has seen the rial lose more than two-thirds of its value, driving up prices and forcing the government to resort to food handouts for the country’s poor.

Rouhani came to power in 2013, vowing to rebuild ties with the world and attract billions of dollars in foreign investment.

The other parties to the nuclear deal — Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia — have all vehemently opposed the US move and vowed to keep trade going, though they are struggling to convince private companies to stand up to US pressure.

Most of the international firms who lined up to work in Iran after the 2015 deal have been forced to leave, including France’s Total, Peugeot and Renault, Germany’s Siemens.

“Today, it’s not just us who are angry with America’s policies. Even European companies and governments are angry with America’s policies,” said Rouhani.

AFP

Israel Thanks Trump As Iran Sanctions Take Effect

Israeli defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman (C) speaks to reporters ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on July 15, 2018. RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP

 

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman welcomed US sanctions that took effect Monday targeting Iran’s oil and financial sectors, calling it a “critical” blow to Tehran’s actions in the region.

“President (Donald) Trump’s bold decision is the sea-change the Middle East has been waiting for,” Lieberman said in a statement.

“In a single move, the United States is dealing a critical blow to Iran’s entrenchment in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq and Yemen. President Trump, you’ve done it again! Thank you.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday also thanked Trump for the sanctions against his country’s main enemy.

The measures described by Washington as “the toughest sanctions ever” follow Trump’s controversial decision in May to abandon the multi-nation nuclear deal with Tehran.

They aim to significantly reduce Iran’s oil exports — which have already fallen by around one million barrels a day since May — and cut it off from international finance.

Israel had long opposed the Iran nuclear deal, saying it was too limited in scope and timeframe.

It also said the lifting of sanctions allowed Iran to finance militant groups and its own military actions.

Israel is particularly concerned with Iran’s involvement in neighbouring Syria and has pledged to keep it from entrenching itself militarily there.

The other parties to the nuclear deal — Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia — opposed the US move and say the accord is working as intended in keeping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons for now.

AFP

ICC ‘Undeterred’ After US Sanctions Threat

President International Criminal Court (ICC), Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji. (Photo Credit: ICC-CPI)

 

The International Criminal Court on Tuesday said its work would continue “undeterred” after Washington threatened to prosecute its officials if Americans are charged with war crimes committed in Afghanistan.

“The ICC, as a court of law, will continue to do its work undeterred, in accordance with those principles and the overarching idea of the rule of law,” the tribunal said in a statement.

The Hague-based court’s response comes a day after the United States threatened to arrest and sanction court officials should they move to charge any American who served in Afghanistan with war crimes.

White House National Security Advisor John Bolton called the Hague-based rights body “unaccountable” and “outright dangerous” to the United States, Israel and other allies, and said any probe of US service members would be “an utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation”.

“If the court comes after us, Israel or other US allies, we will not sit quietly,” Bolton said.

The US was prepared to slap financial sanctions and criminal charges on officials of the court if they proceed against any Americans, he added.

But in response, the ICC declared itself an “independent and impartial judicial institution”.

It also stressed that it would only investigate and prosecute crimes when the states will not or can not do so.

The Hague-based ICC was set up in 2002 with jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute the world’s worst crimes including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The court, however, does not have the capacity to arrest suspects and depends on member states for their cooperation.

The United States has not signed up to the court and in 2002 Congress passed a law enabling Washington to invade the Netherlands to liberate any US citizen held by the court.

AFP

Brunson: Pastor At Centre Of Turkey-US Row

Andrew Brunson, an American pastor held in Turkey for one and a half years in a case that further strained relations between Ankara and Washington, is to go on trial on April 16 on terror-related charges.  STR / DHA / AFP

 

Only weeks ago it would have seemed fanciful to draw a link between the fate of an American pastor in Turkey, a crisis between two NATO allies and turmoil on global financial markets.

But Andrew Brunson, a Protestant clergyman who had lived in Turkey for a quarter of a century without disturbance, is now at the centre of a bitter row pitting Washington against Ankara that caused the lira to crash and the economic jitters to spread globally.

Brunson’s world was turned upside down on October 7, 2016 when he and his wife Norine were arrested in a government crackdown following a failed coup bid in July that year aimed at toppling President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Norine was released two weeks later but Brunson was kept in jail and then charged with assisting two organisations regarded by Turkey as terror groups: the group of Fethullah Gulen blamed for the putsch and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Brunson, who marked his 50th birthday behind bars on January 3, faces 35 years in jail if convicted.

His arrest received relatively little media coverage at the time and efforts by US officials to release him were given initially only a very low profile in public.

But his continued detention for almost two years — without being convicted — has turned into one of the biggest bones of contention in the increasingly troubled relationship between Turkey and the United States.

The tensions reached a new peak last week when President Donald Trump announced trade sanctions against Ankara, sending the lira into a tailspin and raising fears of a full-blown economic crisis.

 ‘I love Turkey’ 

Brunson’s Evangelical Presbyterian Church describes him as a “teaching elder” who moved to Turkey in 1993 as part of a missionary programme.

According to his own testimony, Brunson arrived in the Aegean city of Izmir in 2000 and opened his Dirilis (Resurrection) Church a decade later. A small, easily missed building, it counted just a few dozen congregants.

“I was not engaged in any secret activity. The state always watched us,” he said in court.

“I haven’t done anything against Turkey. On the contrary, I love Turkey. I have been praying for Turkey for 25 years.”

Brunson was sent from jail to house arrest last month but the move added to rather than defused tensions, with US officials bitterly disappointed he had not been allowed to return home.

American reports alleged that Turkey had reneged on an agreement, although this has been vehemently denied by Ankara.

A court Wednesday again rejected a request brought by Brunson’s defence for his release, leaving no end to the crisis in sight.

In theory, Brunson must wait until his next trial hearing on October 12.

Speaking in perfect Turkish, Brunson told the court he “forgives” those who provided testimony accusing him of links with the PKK and Gulen’s group.

 ‘Total disgrace’ 

Turkish officials insist that the case has been misportrayed in Western media and Brunson has serious charges to answer over links to the failed coup bid.

“Shame on you, shame on you. You are exchanging your strategic partner in NATO for a pastor,” Erdogan told the US after the latest tensions erupted.

But the US has insisted Brunson is an innocent man who is being unfairly held.

Trump has repeatedly tweeted his support for Brunson, describing him as a “fine gentleman”, a “Christian leader in the United States” and a “respected US pastor” whose continued holding by Turkey was a “total disgrace”.

The White House said Tuesday Trump was experiencing a “great deal of frustration” that Brunson has still not been released.

The row has become symbolic of a malaise between the two nations that extends far further than this case.

Turkey is furious that the US has failed to hand over Gulen to face trial and also over the conviction and imprisonment of Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla for busting US sanctions against Iran.

Turkish officials have rejected claims that Ankara engaged in “hostage diplomacy” by jailing Brunson in the hope of winning US concessions elsewhere.

Yet last September, Erdogan suggested that Turkey could free Brunson if Washington handed over Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.

“They say ‘give us the pastor’. You have a preacher (Gulen) there. Give him to us, and we will try (Brunson) and give him back,” Erdogan said.

AFP

Foreign Tourists Get Surprise Bonanza From Turkey Woes

 

The collapse of the Turkish lira has caused trauma as Turks see their purchasing power slashed, but bargain-hunting foreign tourists visiting the country at the peak of the summer season are cashing in on a currency windfall.

Visitors, mainly from Saudi Arabia and Asia, formed long queues in Istanbul outside luxury stores like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Prada after the lira took a severe hit against the dollar, losing over 16 percent of its value on Friday.

“Everything is getting cheaper and cheaper,” said Saudi Arabian tourist Nasir El-Nabir, outside a chic store in an upscale Istanbul neighbourhood.

“It’s like a 30 percent sale, so I am really affected in a positive way.”

Laden with shopping bags, tourists have enjoyed a shopping bonanza before retailers hike prices to take account of the lira’s devaluation, under the slightly bewildered gaze of Turks who have borne the brunt of the crisis.

The queues suggest that the plunge in the lira, driven by Turkey’s bitter dispute with the United States, is set to give a boost to the key tourism industry, which struggled greatly after a failed coup and terror attacks in 2016.

 Tourism revival 

The lira’s plunge — which had been ongoing for weeks — was turned into a rout on Friday when US President Donald Trump tweeted that Washington was doubling aluminium and steel tariffs for Turkey.

The Turkish currency has since clawed back some ground.

Xenos Lemis, a tourist from Cyprus, said he had been following the currency drama in real time.

“We check the price of the lira every two hours and there is a significant change. So for shopping for a tourist, this is a blessing,” he added.

But some visitors lamented that they also lost money when they converted a large sum of foreign money to the Turkish currency just before the crisis broke.

“I’m quite surprised because I took a lot of cash from the bank in lira and when I woke up in the morning I found out that I almost lost (the equivalent of) one hundred or two hundred during one night,” Kobe Wu Kejia, a Chinese tourist, told AFP.

“This is pretty scary.”

Turkey’s tourism sector, which came under severe pressure due to the attacks and failed coup of 2016, had already appeared to have sprung to its feet this year despite the country’s economic woes.

The industry has managed to diversify its appeal, with sharp rises in the numbers of visitors arriving from countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, while traditional tourism from Europe also revived.

Meanwhile, Russian tourism — critical for the economy on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast — has also sprung back to life after being devastated by a political crisis between Ankara and Moscow in 2015.

Firuz Baglikaya, head of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB), said there was a 30 percent increase in tourism in Turkey compared to last year.

“We expect a $32 billion foreign currency inflow,” he told the state-run Anadolu news agency.

“We have a target of having 40 million tourists since 2017, and if there’s nothing negative, this objective will be achieved.”

Package holiday giant Thomas Cook said this month, before the lira crisis struck in earnest, that it has seen a 63 percent increase in bookings for Turkey from last year, with Antalya now its most popular airport for British holidaymakers.

 ‘Extra stay’

In Istanbul’s historic Eminonu neighbourhood, tourists expressed mixed feelings about their cheaper vacation in Turkey.

“In the first place, of course, it’s an advantage for us,” German tourist Barbara said on the Golden Horn, walking with her husband.

“But in second place we also feel kind of sorry because the men in the shop do not earn so much anymore for what it’s worth. So there are these two sides.”

Martin Bifrare, from Switzerland, said he might extend his family vacation with his wife and children over the currency difference.

“With this economic situation, we could decide, for example, to stay an extra week or to allow ourselves a few excursions that we wouldn’t necessarily have done otherwise,” he said.

AFP

Turkish Lira Rebounds After Central Bank Measures

A money changer counts Turkish lira banknotes at a currency exchange office in Istanbul, on August 8, 2018.  Yasin AKGUL / AFP

 

The Turkish lira rebounded Tuesday against the dollar, a day after the central bank took a raft of measures in a bid to soothe the markets. 

The lira was at 6.49 to the dollar and 7.41 to the euro, well off the 7.24 to the dollar and 8.12 to the euro seen Monday.

The unit has lost about a fifth of its value against the greenback since Friday.

Turkey’s central bank on Monday announced it was ready to take “all necessary measures” to ensure financial stability after the collapse of the lira, promising to provide banks with liquidity.

The bank also revised reserve requirement ratios for banks, in a move also aimed at staving off any liquidity issues.

Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will speak with about 1,000 foreign investors on Thursday via a teleconference, the private NTV broadcaster said.

Rapid growth fuelled by foreign funds and relatively low-interest rates have built up imbalances in the Turkish economy, setting the stage for the lira’s plunge.

The trigger has been a diplomatic crisis with the United States over a number of issues including the detention of an American pastor.

US President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Turkish iron and steel exports, in a series of punitive actions for Ankara’s refusal to release the pastor, who is currently under house detention on terror-related charges and espionage.

AFP

Why Turkey’s Lira Has Fallen

A Kuwaiti man holds up two-hundred Turkish lira banknotes at a currency exchange in Kuwait City on August 12, 2018. The value of the Turkish lira dropped significantly this year after the US imposed sanctions against Ankara.  Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

 

Turkey’s lira has bled value against the dollar, leaving the country under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan facing its most serious economic challenge since a financial crisis in 2001.

The crash on Turkey’s “Black Friday” of August 10 — when the lira fell by some 16 percent — was precipitated by a tweet from US President Donald Trump doubling aluminium and steel tariffs on Turkey.

But analysts argue that the malaise of Turkey — a high-growth economy with widely-acknowledged potential and importance — goes far deeper to policy and imbalances that have been allowed to persist for too long.

 Crisis in US ties 

The first warning sign trouble could afoot come when Trump said on July 26 Turkey would be facing sanctions over its holding for almost two years of US pastor Andrew Brunson on terror-related charges.

Days later, the US imposed sanctions against Turkey’s interior and justice ministers using legislation drawn up to punish foreign officials following the death of a lawyer in a Russian jail. Turkey followed suit with reciprocal measures.

The tensions spooked investors already worried by the fallout of a row between Turkey and its NATO ally, with the lira falling sharply last week. And Trump then hurled fuel on the flames with his tweet over the tariffs, prompting Friday’s crash.

The US imposition of sanctions “is causing capital inflows to dry up”, said economists from Capital Economics.

Economic imbalances 

Economists say there was already trouble brewing even before the current spat erupted — many believe the government brought forward polls due in November 2019 to June this year to pre-empt any problems.

Erdogan won a new mandate in the polls with enhanced powers.

“The unnecessary diplomatic spat between Turkey and the US over the jailed pastor… has exacerbated” an already emerging economic crisis, Paul T. Levin, director of the Stockholm University Institute for Turkish Studies, told AFP.

The structural problems in the Turkish economy — which enjoyed the impressive growth of 7.4 in 2017 — are seen as high inflation which is now close to 16 percent, a widening current account deficit and a banking system with foreign currency denominated debt.

Hussein Sayed, Chief Market Strategist at FXTM, said Turkey has “limited choices” against this background coupled with the US dispute.

Erdogan insisted Monday that the dynamics of the Turkish economy were “solid, strong and sound and will continue to be so”.

Unorthodox policies 

Since coming to power in 2003 Erdogan has built his popularity on growth and transforming areas, especially in the conservative interior of the country, with newly-found wealth.

Economists say he wants to keep the growth ticking and has thus made clear interest rates get in the way, with Erdogan describing them as the “mother and father of all evil”.

Erdogan has also repeatedly aired the unorthodox view that low-interest rates can help bring down inflation.

Levin argued that despite the official emphasis on the crisis with the US “it has been clear for some time to anyone following Turkey that the government’s political and economic mismanagement would have consequences”.

Interest rate caution 

The route of hiking rates now appears cut off to the nominally independent central bank which is ready to use virtually any policy tool save this one, raising fears Erdogan has the bank under his influence.

The bank in May helped boost the lira’s value with a 300 basis point rate hike that came just before the elections.

However one month after the elections, the bank dashed market expectations by leaving rates unchanged and has steadfastly refused to heed calls for an emergency hike.

Instead on Monday, it vowed to make available “all the liquidity” needed by the banks.

“The measures to improve liquidity are not addressing the main issue which is lira’s decline. Ergodan’s unwillingness to raise interest rates suggests that the situation might not be defused soon,” said Konstantinos Anthis, head of research at ADSS.

 Policymaking team 

The elections on June 24 marked a watershed in Turkish politics. Erdogan was inaugurated in July under a new system which entirely dispensed with the office of prime minister.

Former deputy prime minister Mehmet Simsek, a reassuring figure for investors, was conspicuously absent from the new government which is a vertical power structure under Erdogan.

The president also appointed his son in law and former energy minister Berat Albayrak as finance minister to head a newly expanded finance ministry, a move that was given an immediate cold shoulder by markets.

“It’s arguably the lack of prompt, firm, and rational responses from Turkish authorities that has now sent the lira into a tailspin,” said Levin.

AFP

Erdogan Accuses US Of Seeking To Stab Turkey ‘In The Back’

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the second anniversary of the attempted coup at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey. ADEM ALTAN / AFP

 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday accused the United States of seeking to stab Turkey “in the back” over a diplomatic row sparked by the detention of an American pastor that has sent the lira into a tailspin. 

“You act on one side as a strategic partner but on the other you fire bullets into the foot of your strategic partner,” Erdogan told a conference in the capital Ankara.

“We are together in NATO and then you seek to stab your strategic partner in the back. Can such a thing be accepted?” Erdogan asked.

Turkey and the United States, two NATO allies, have been locked in bitter disputes over a string of issues from a pastor’s detention on terror charges to the war in Syria.

The dispute has severely hit the Turkish currency which has been in the free fall since Friday.

Erdogan said Turkey was facing an “economic siege”, slamming the currency movements as an “attack against our country.”

US President Donald Trump said Friday he had doubled steel and aluminium tariffs on Turkey.

But Erdogan advised Turks not to worry.

“It is not at all like we sank and we are finished. The dynamics of the Turkish economy are solid, strong and sound and will continue to be so.”

Erdogan also blasted the “economic terror” on social media, vowing that the judiciary had taken necessary measures to punish so-called speculators.

The Interior Ministry launched an investigation into 346 social media accounts on grounds of “provocative sharings on social media”, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

AFP

Iran Dares US, Vows To Launch Ballistic Missile

 

Iran unveiled a next-generation short-range ballistic missile on Monday and vowed to further boost its capabilities, Iranian media said, at a time of rising tensions with the United States.

State broadcaster IRIB said the new Fateh Mobin missile had “successfully passed its tests” and could strike targets on land and sea.

“As promised to our dear people, we will not spare any effort to increase the missile capabilities of the country and we will certainly increase our missile power every day,” Defence Minister Amir Hatami said, quoted by conservative news agency Tasnim.

The new missile’s range was not given, but previous versions had a range of around 200 to 300 kilometers, according to the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

US officials told Fox News last week that a “Fateh-110 missile” was test-fired by Iran during naval exercises in the Strait of Hormoz last week.

A US general described the exercises as designed to send a message, following threats from Iran that it could shut down the vital, oil-shipping waterway in retaliation for renewed sanctions.

“Nothing can stop this missile because of its high degree of flexibility,” said Hatami, adding that the new version of the Fateh Mobin was “100-percent domestically made… agile, stealth, tactical (and) precision-guided”.

“Be sure that the greater the pressures and psychological warfare against the great nation of Iran, our will to enhance our defence power in all fields will increase,” he added.

President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and world powers in May.

Iran’s missile programme is a major bone of contention, particularly with the United States and its allies, but is seen as vital by Iran to its defensive posture in a troubled region.

AFP

Turkey’s Lira Crisis Spills Into Asian Markets

A picture taken on August 12, 2018 shows a wad of one-hundred Turkish lira notes on display at a currency exchange in Kuwait City.  Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

 

Asian and European markets tumbled and the Turkish lira dived almost eight percent Monday on fears that the economic crisis gripping Turkey could spill over into the global economy.

With investors already on edge over the China-US trade war, the lira’s collapse sparked a sell-off in Europe and New York at the end of last week, with safe-haven assets including the Japanese yen and Swiss franc rallying.

The lira dived to a record low of 7.24 to the dollar at one point overnight before recovering slightly after the country’s finance minister said Ankara was planning to roll out an “action plan” on Monday in response to the crisis.

That was followed by the central bank saying it was ready to take “all necessary measures” to ensure financial stability, easing reserve requirements for lenders and promising to provide them with liquidity.

“Our institutions will take necessary action from Monday in order to relieve the markets,” Berat Albayrak said, adding that the plan would center on “the state of our banks and the small and medium-sized enterprises” most affected by the lira’s plunge.

The lira has been hammered this year, having started January at around 3.70 to the dollar according to Bloomberg data, while it is also sharply down against the euro.

However, the European unit was taking a hit against the greenback on worries about the possible impact on some European banks, including Spain’s BBVA, Italy’s UniCredit and France’s BNP Paribas.

Despite the tumult, President Tayyip Erdogan remains in a combative mood, calling the rout a “political, underhand plot” against Turkey.

The crisis has been sparked by a series of issues including a faltering economy — the central bank has defied market calls for rate hikes — and tensions with the United States, which has hit Turkey with sanctions over its detention of an American pastor.

Ankara has also hit out at Washington’s cooperation with Syrian Kurdish militia in the fight against Islamic State.

 Vulnerabilities 

“The decline in the lira is multifaceted, caused not only by a weak external position in terms of current account deficit and inadequate currency reserves but also the challenging political environment which exacerbates the vulnerabilities in the lira,” said Kerry Craig, global market strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management.

“A mid-meeting rate hike and tightening of monetary policy may help to avert the lira’s decline, to some extent.”

As well as the lira, emerging market and other high-yielding currencies tumbled across the board.

The Russian ruble, already under pressure after the US hit Moscow with sanctions last week, lost two percent, while the South African rand was battered seven percent.

South Korea’s won and the Australian dollar retreated 0.4 percent and the Indonesian rupiah lost 0.9 percent and is at its weakest level since October 2015.

The Indian rupee hit a new low of 69.62, extending a recent sell-off with high crude prices also squeezing the unit as India is a net importer of oil.

The yen, a go-to unit in times of turmoil, rose against the dollar, while the Swiss franc was also higher.

“The dominating theme of this week is likely to be the Turkish situation,” Okasan Online Securities said in a note to clients.

“The ‘Turkey shock’ from last weekend, triggered by sharp plunges of the lira, has fuelled fears that it may impact financial institutions in Europe,” it said.

On equity markets, Hong Kong shed 1.5 percent and Shanghai finished 0.3 percent lower, while Tokyo dropped two percent with exporters hurt by the stronger yen.

Sydney fell 0.4 percent, Singapore was 0.8 percent lower and Seoul shed 1.5 percent. There were also sharp losses in Taipei, Manila, and Jakarta, which dived 3.3 percent after Indonesia reported Friday its biggest current account deficit in about four years.

London fell 0.5 percent in the morning, while Paris slipped 0.3 percent and Frankfurt was 0.6 percent lower.

The sharp losses come despite the fact Turkey accounts for just one percent of the world economy, meaning there is little risk to the world economy or even the eurozone.

Key figures at 0810 GMT –

Dollar/Turkish lira: UP at 6.88 lira from 6.43 lira late Friday

Euro/Turkish lira: UP at 7.84 lira from 7.34 lira

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 2.0 percent at 21,857.43 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 1.5 percent at 27,936.57 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 2,785.87 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.5 percent at 7,627.95

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1373 from $1.1421

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2746 from $1.2789

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 110.24 yen from 110.58 yen

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 28 cents at $67.35

Oil – Brent Crude: DOWN 35 cents at $72.46

New York – Dow Jones: DOWN 0.8 percent at 25,313.14

AFP

Germany Warns US Sanctions On Iran Could Cause ‘Chaos’

German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas (R) arrives ahead of a Foreign Affairs minister meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels on March 19, 2018. JOHN THYS / AFP

 

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned Wednesday that US President Donald Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran could further destabilise the Middle East and boost radical forces in the region.

Trump brought back the punishing sanctions after unilaterally pulling out of a landmark 2015 deal between Tehran and Western powers to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“We still think that it is a mistake to give up on the nuclear accord with Iran,” Maas said in an interview with the daily Passauer Neue Presse.

“We are fighting for the deal because it also serves our purpose by bringing about security and transparency in the region.”

Noting Iran’s geographic proximity to Europe, Maas warned that “anyone who’s hoping for regime change must not forget that whatever follows could bring us much bigger problems.”

“Isolating Iran could boost radical and fundamentalist forces,” he said, adding that “chaos in Iran, as we have experienced in Iraq or Libya, would further destabilise an already troubled region.”

In a desperate bid to save the nuclear accord, European governments have pledged to do what they can to keep business links with Tehran.

Despite the political will to hold firm, many large European firms such as German automaker Daimler are leaving Iran for fear of US penalties.

The US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, welcomed the news.

“We are pleased to see German businesses stopping their trade with Iran, complying with U.S. sanctions, and helping pressure the Iranian regime back to the table,” he tweeted.

“We stand together to stop Iran’s malign activities.”

AFP

Syria Slams Renewed US Sanctions On Ally Iran

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad giving  HO / Syrian Presidency Telegram Page / AFP

 

Syria on Tuesday condemned the United States’ reimposition of sanctions on Iran, describing the move against its longtime ally as “illegal” and driven by “arrogance”.

A first wave of renewed US sanctions came into effect on Tuesday, hitting Tehran’s access to US banknotes and key industries such as cars and carpets.

Syria “sharply condemned the American administration’s decision to reimpose economic sanctions on Iran”, said a foreign ministry official, quoted by state news agency SANA.

The sanctions on Iran follow US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal in May from a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran, Washington and other world powers.

“These unilateral actions are illegal under international law and confirm that the US administration’s policies have a proclivity for hegemony and arrogance,” the Syrian official said.

Damascus has long been subject to US sanctions and Iran backs President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war, providing political, military and economic support.

Tuesday’s sanctions on Iran are due to be followed by another round of punitive measures from Washington in November, targeting the country’s vital oil sector.

In an executive order Monday, Trump said the sanctions seek to pile financial pressure on Iran and force a “comprehensive and lasting solution” to aggressive activities, including its development of missiles and “malign” regional activities.

The US has sought to curtail Tehran’s influence in the Middle East, including its support for Assad’s regime.

Syria’s conflict has killed more than 350,000 over the past seven years.

Damascus is in full solidarity with Iran “in facing the hostile policies of the US administration”, the Syrian foreign ministry official said.

“Iran’s leadership, government, and people will triumph over all the ramifications of these steps”, the official added.

AFP