On November 2, Washington lifted sanctions imposed on Turkey’s Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu in an obvious attempt to ease tensions with Ankara.
The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on the two Turkish ministers last month in order to pressure Turkey to release American Christian pastor Andrew Brunson, who was detained by the Turkish authorities in October of 2016. Brunson was released few weeks after the implementation of the sanctions.
In response to the U.S. step, Turkey ended sanctions on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, according to the Anadolu Agency. The Turkish sanctions were nothing more than a response to the U.S. pressure.
While the U.S. decision to lift sanctions of the two Turkish ministers appears to be motivated by the release of pastor Brunson, a deeper look at the situation shows that the U.S is generally interested in improving its relations with Turkey now.
The Turkish military is currently carrying out strikes on US-backed forces in northeastern Syria, describing them as terroris groups. Furthermore, the U.S. can now work to facilitate a deal with Turkey on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in order to save the face of Saudi Arabia. Despite obvious evidence that Saudi Arabia had pre-planned the murder of the journalist, the Trump adminstration has made a series of attempts to ease the international pressure on Riyadh. It also declared that it will continue its security support to the US and keep the reached weapons deals.