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Brunson Coming Home?

Brunson Coming Home?

As we go to press, Turkish authorities are deciding the fate of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who has been imprisoned in Turkey for two years on charges that he aided terrorist groups and supported a coup in 2016.


The White House has long demanded his release, and to force Ankara’s hand, President Trump this summer slapped sanctions on an already reeling Turkish economy, sending the lira into a tailspin. The fate of Mr. Brunson is a big issue for US evangelical voters, a critical constituency for President Trump in the upcoming midterm elections and in 2020.

Yesterday afternoon, reports emerged that the US had reached a deal under which the US would ease sanctions in exchange for Mr. Brunson’s release. Will that happen?

We’ve been close to a breakthrough before. Earlier this summer, Turkey’s headstrong President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly promised President Trump in person at the NATO summit in Brussels to release Brunson, only to renege once he got back to Ankara.

But Ankara may be more favorably disposed this time around for two reasons. First, the economic pressure on Turkey is causing real problems for Erdogan, and releasing Brunson in exchange for sanctions relief would ease outside investors’ concerns – the lira rebounded substantially on news of a deal.

And second, Turkey is keen to move the US into its corner ahead of a potentially nasty spat with Saudi Arabia, Washington’s close ally, which Ankara has accused of killing dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.

Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.

On his first day as president, Joe Biden signed a remarkable series of executive orders. Boom! The US rejoins the Paris Climate Accord. Bang! The United States rejoins the World Health Organization. Pow! No more ban on immigration from many Muslim-majority countries. Biden's press secretary reminded reporters later in the day that all these orders merely begin complex processes that take time, but the impact is still dramatic.

If you lead a country allied with the US, or you're simply hoping for some specific commitment or clear and credible statement of purpose from the US government, you might feel a little dizzy today. The sight of an American president (Barack Obama) signing his name, of the next president (Donald Trump) erasing that name from the same legislation/bill, and then the following president (Biden) signing it back into law again will raise deep concerns over the long-term reliability of the world's still-most-powerful nation.

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