Turkey faces a geostrategic choice The warming of relations between Moscow and Ankara has reached a new milestone with the delivery of the Russian S-400 missile system. Erdogan thus launches an unprecedented challenge to NATO and the United States. Three years ago almost to the day after the military coup attempt it had helped to defeat, Russia began delivering its S-400 missile system to Turkey on Friday, July 12. Vladimir Putin was the first head of state to phone Erdogan to wish him “a quick return to stability”.
Straight Talk: Russia’s sale of S-400 to Turkey is making the US uncomfortable. Why?. For a year now, Ankara has been negotiating with Moscow to the S-400 surface-to-air missile defense system. A deal that’s raising eyebrows among its allies, Aishe Jamal explains. Turkey is located in a dangerous neighborhood with danger spilling over into its borders. That’s why Turkey needs its most capable defenses. Despite being the second largest army in the NATO, Turkey doesn’t have its own air defense system. For a year now, Ankara has been negotiating with Moscow to the S-400 surface-to-air missile defense system.
The Turkish president has not forgotten it . Nor has he forgotten the restraint of his Western partners, nor their justified criticism of the repression that has never stopped, with some 50,000 arrests and the firing of more than 150,000 civil servants. The warming of relations between Moscow and Ankara, previously opposed in the Syrian conflict, began in the summer of 2016. Since then, it has only intensified. The “new tzar” and the “new sultan” have much in common, their conservatism as their authoritarianism, their taste for history as their desire to return their respective countries to what they consider to be the rank that they deserve.
The S-400 is the symbol of this very new Russian-Turkish alliance. Turkey’s purchase of these air-defense missiles in September 2017 , worth € 2.2 billion, caused consternation among its allies. Pillar of the south-east flank of the Atlantic Alliance since 1952 and second army of NATO by the number of soldiers, Turkey has certainly never been an easy partner, especially since the coming to power in 2002 Islamists of the AKP (Justice and Development Party). Reluctant to the engagement in Afghanistan, hostile to the intervention in Libya and long ambiguous vis-à-vis the jihadists of ISIS , Erdogan’s Turkey already worried more and more its partners.
This is Vladimir Putin’s game . The NATO challenge of installing the S-400 – if it is truly completed – is unprecedented. These missiles will complicate Western military operations. Their deployment raises the question of their compatibility with the rest of the equipment of the NATO armies and the security of the Alliance against an ever more aggressive Russia. This is also playing the game of Vladimir Putin, who is using these missiles and Turkey to exacerbate the divisions within NATO. The Trump administration has given Ankara until July 31 the chance to abandon this acquisition, under the threat of economic sanctions that could be fatal to an already weakened Turkish economy.
Trump is also threatening to pull Turkey out of the F-35 construction program, the latest-generation of American stealth fighters, which include Turkish companies. The training program for Turkish pilots on these planes has already been frozen. While Donald Trump is being vocal and threatening in his attitude towards Turkey , the other members of the Alliance seem for the moment to hesitate on the attitude to adopt, beyond the expression of their “concern”, and hope that the recent disappointments of the party of M Erdogan in the municipal elections will lead to his defeat in the next presidential election … In 2023. NATO’s statutes do not provide for the possibility of excluding or even suspending a member state.
Turkey was already marginalized, especially because of the purges in the army after the failed coup d’etat of 2016. Now, it is up to Erdogan to make the geostrategic choice imposed by the S-400 affair. . . either Putin or NATO , But playing on both sides will not be possible for long.
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