TURKISH – US relations have deteriorated in recent weeks, with Washington threatening reprisals if Ankara goes ahead with the purchase of the Russian-made S-400 air
Relations between the two countries have been in a downward spiral for some time—especially since Washington made the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers a “terrorist organization” and threat to the Turkish state,
Differences have since expanded to include an array of Mideast and even global issues. Washington is particularly alarmed by Ankara’s attempts to offset pressure from its traditional western allies by forging closer ties with Russia and Iran.
Washington is adamant Turkey not finalize the purchase of the S-400, a long-range air and missile
In testimony before a congressional committee this week, the acting US defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan,
Asked if the Pentagon wants Turkey as an F-35 partner, Shanahan said, “We absolutely do,” then added, “We need Turkey to buy the Patriot.” This was a reference to Washington’s offer to sell US-made Patriot missile batteries to Ankara for $3.5 billion in lieu of the S-400.
If Turkey deploys the S-400
It will run afoul of US sanctions against Russia if Turkey deploys the S-400.
Senior Trump administration officials have raised the prospect of Turkey being excluded from NATO activities, citing interoperability concerns with the Russian-made missile system.
Erdogan has, nonetheless, repeatedly vowed that Turkey will buy and deploy the S-400. In his latest comments on the subject, made in a recent interview with television broadcaster TGRT Haber, Erdogan declared that no matter what the United States says, Turkey will not reverse its position on the deal.
Israel’s illegal annexation of Golan Heights
Erdogan’s rebuke to Washington came just two days after he issued a critical statement protesting the Trump administration’s decision to
The dispute over the S-400 is a flashpoint for deeper conflicts bound up with Turkey’s geopolitical and military-strategic orientation. A member of NATO since 1952 and a key Western ally during the Cold War, Turkey has been severely
Bordering Syria and Iraq to the south and with significant economic and political interests in the nearby regions of the Balkans and North Africa, Ankara was directly impacted by the first Gulf War, the Western-backed carve-up of Yugoslavia and NATO’s bombardment of Serbia, the 2003 Iraq invasion, the 2011 air onslaught on Libya to topple Gaddafi, and the ongoing bloodbath in Syria.
The Turkish ruling elite, including under Erdogan and his AKP during their first decade in power, supported the succession of US wars and tried to advance its own interests through them. But the many shifts in US policy frequently cut across their interests and ambitions.
With Syria matters came to a head, initially Erdogan enthusiastically supported the US fomented regime-change war in Syria and Ankara was a major co-sponsor of the Islamist militias that spearheaded the drive to overthrow Bashar al-Assad and his Baathist regime. But Turkey was incensed when, once those militias had been pushed back, the US forged an alliance with the YPG, a Syrian offshoot of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), against which Ankara has waged a brutal counter-insurgency war for over three decades. It was within this context that Turkey orchestrated a rapprochement with Russia and intensified cooperation with Iran.
For Turkey, rolling back the proto-state that the YPG has established in northern Syria remains the overriding goal of its Syria policy. Toward this
The Pentagon meanwhile continues to rely on the YPG to provide a base for its predatory operations in Syria, including by denying the Assad regime access to the country’s most important oil fields.
The American national security establishment has increasingly come to view Turkey as an obstacle to its goal of securing unbridled hegemony over the energy-rich and strategically critical Middle East. In a recent analysis published by the Arab Gulf States Institute, a Washington-based think tank, the authors argued that the Middle East is increasingly divided into three blocs: the Sunni Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia, an Iran-led alliance that includes Hezbollah, and a Turkish-led bloc. “Turkey’s role at the epicenter of a new Middle East alliance was consolidated by the 2017 boycott of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain
Within this context, Turkey’s decision on the S-400 missile
On April 8, the Turkish president is due to travel to Moscow for one-on-one talks with Vladimir Putin.
At the same time, and
Commentary in pro-government Turkish media
A common refrain is that if Turkey abandons the purchase of the S-400 and accepts Washington’s offer of the Patriot missiles, it could soon face additional US conditions, including making accommodations on Israel or Syria.
Turkish ruling circles also responded angrily to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s attendance at an energy summit involving Israel, Greece
Washington will bring pressure on Ankara
That being said, Washington will undoubtedly bring tremendous pressure to bear on Ankara, including on the economic front. Just before Erdogan visits Moscow, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will travel to a NATO foreign ministers meeting, where he is due to meet with Pompeo.
Any attempt by Turkey to move closer to Russia or China, which has invested heavily in Turkey over recent years and sought to win Ankara over to its Belt and Road Initiative, would be fraught with conflicts. Ankara’s disputes with the Western powers notwithstanding, the Turkish bourgeoisie still relies overwhelmingly on capital from Europe to invest in domestic projects, and the European Union remains far and away Turkey’s most important export destination.
As shown by last Friday’s 5 percent depreciation of the Turkish lira after Erdogan denounced Trump’s Golan decision and the crashing of the Turkish currency last August after the Trump administration doubled its tariffs on Turkey’s steel and
Turkey was in talks with Russia in 2016
TASS reported: The process of deploying Russian advanced S-400 air defense missile systems in Turkey will begin in October, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said at a meeting with editors of the Anadolu news agency on March 8. “The deployment of S-400s will begin in October and the Air Force is studying, in which regions it is better to deploy them,” the
The S-400 can engage targets at a distance of 400 km and at an altitude of up to 30 km.
It was reported in November 2016 that Turkey was in talks with Russia on purchasing S-400 air defense missile systems. The contract’s signing was confirmed by the Russian side on September 12,
In mid-June 2018, a source in military and diplomatic circles told TASS that Russian