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U.S. threatens Türkiye with sanctions for supporting Hamas and Russia

U.S. threatens Türkiye with sanctions for supporting Hamas and Russia Illustrative photo (Getty Images)

The United States has warned Turkish officials that they face sanctions for supporting Russia and Hamas, reports The Wall Street Journal.

According to U.S. officials, despite the sanctions imposed by the U.S. against Hamas financiers over the past decade, Türkiye has allowed investment companies, holding companies, real estate brokers, and numerous other businesses associated with this group to operate from Istanbul.

The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan does not recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization, as the U.S. does. Erdogan distinguishes between the military and political wings of the group and doubts that the flow of funds from businesses directly finances weapons.

Regarding Russia, U.S. officials say that Turkish companies and individuals risk facing a series of sanctions for supplying goods and services to Russia that are prohibited by Western export controls.

Ankara is playing on both sides in the war in Ukraine. It provided support to Kyiv, including preventing Russia from strengthening its Black Sea fleet, supplying weapons to Ukraine, and facilitating the export of Ukrainian grain, crucial for its economy and global food supplies.

President of Türkiye Recep Tayyip Erdogan simultaneously sought to expand economic ties with Russia, a strategy that helped Ankara obtain much-needed foreign currency and cheap energy during economic shocks.

U.S. officials claim that Turkish ports are used to service Russian tankers subject to sanctions, easing weapons smuggling and that Russian front companies and Turkish firms contributed to a sixfold increase in the export of so-called dual-use goods necessary for the Kremlin's military to conduct a protracted war.

This week, U.S. officials met with heads of Turkish banks in closed-door briefings. Turkish banks are required to cease financing terrorism and suspicions of money laundering to maintain access to U.S. dollar financial markets.

Israel's war with Hamas

In early October, Hamas militants initiated a large-scale invasion into Israel. They killed and kidnapped both military and civilian residents. In response, Israel declared a military operation against the militants called Operation Iron Swords.

As part of this operation, the Israel Defense Forces expanded the ground operation in the Gaza Strip. Troops and equipment were deployed to the region.

Earlier, the President of Türkiye, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stated his support for Hamas, declaring Israel a terrorist state seeking to destroy the Gaza Strip.