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Old Thursday, July 11, 2019
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Default US-Turkey relations and recent development

Given the developments over the last year and up to last week’s G20 Osaka summit, tension in Turkish-US-Nato relations had increasingly reached a fever pitch because of brewing differences between Washington and Ankara over the issue of Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile system from Moscow as Turkey refused to back down from its stand of purchasing a Russian-made surface-to-air missile system. But now the situation has softened following U.S. President Donald Trump’s remarks at the G20 summit in Osaka, Turkish FM Mevlüt Çavu?o?lu said last Thursday. Ankara has assured that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO operability and would in no way pose a threat to the alliance.
Turkey and the United States are on a collision course over Ankara’s decision to buy Russian-made S-400 anti-missile defence systems-thereby affecting Turkey’s relationship with Nato, of which it has been a member for the past 67 years. Strategically and technically, the S-400, a mobile long-range surface-to-air missile system, is Moscow’s befitting response to America’s Patriot and THAAD platforms. The lack of a strategic approach in U.S. foreign policy creates even more setbacks for resolving challenges, let alone containing and preventing the emergence of crises. In the absence of a strategy, instead of a long-term foreign policy approach, U.S. foreign policy is shaped by tactical steps and operational moves. It militarizes U.S. foreign policy because of the increasing relevance of military operations and short-term tactical moves.

The hawkish western critics argue that it is time for the United States and the other Nato members to examine the Turkish status as so-called Turkish ally. And serious consideration needs to be given to expelling that country from Nato. But there is nothing written in the Nato’s charter that pertains to expulsion. Nor we find any precedent for removing a member state. A country could leave Nato of its own choice. Article 13 clearly states that “any Party may cease to be a Party one year after its notice of denunciation”. Recently, the acting US secretary of defence Patrick Shanahan penned a polite and formal letter to his Turkish counterpart arguing that if Turkey were to follow through with its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence system, then Turkey’s participation in the F-35 joint strike fighter programme would remain discontinued.

Moreover, four US senators recently penned an op-ed in the New York Times with a clear warning in its headline: “A U.S. Fighter Jet or a Russian Missile System. Not Both.” The senators declare that US law will force sanctions against Turkey if it accepts delivery of an S-400 system from Russia. Consequently, the US halted delivery of F-35 parts to Turkey. The western critics blame that Erdogan’s different vision for Turkey has made the country’s relations with the United States and Nato at their lowest point since the end of the Cold War. Those critics prejudicially blame that Erdogan’s anti-secular outlook is meant to extract resources from the West.
Yet obviously, The Trump administration has also played a major role in the breakdown of ties. Trump placed tough sanctions on Turkey last August, and at one point vowed to ”devastate” the country’s economy. “This is no longer anything that can accurately be called a strategic partnership,” Lisel Hintz, a Turkey expert at Johns Hopkins University, said. “I wouldn’t even call Turkey an ally. An ally doesn’t behave the way in which Turkey has been behaving.” Yet for Turkey, it is against its security concern that the U.S. provides an overt and covert support to protect its Syrian Kurdish ally. But no long term crisis should be expected between Ankara and Washington, Ilhan Uzgel, an analyst on international relations who taught at Ankara University, told Xinhuanet.com. In his thinking, both Ankara and Washington would ultimately manage to reach a compromise as in the past, he said, maintaining that the image of a crisis in ties is actually misleading. And also both Turkish and American ‘IR’ experts Hassan Koni and Uzgel believe the United States may say “yes” to a limited Turkish incursion into Kurdish-held territory, where Ankara would set up a buffer zone for its own security. “The radar system would provide Russia with military sensitive info on the F-35, which is our top-quality fifth-generation aircraft,” Andrew Winternitz, acting deputy assistant secretary of defence for European and NATO policy, said at a panel hosted by Foreign Policy magazine.

And yet, Justifiably Erdogan’s resentment stems from Washington’s unqualified support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG in the fight against Islamic State. Ankara discerns the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been carrying out an insurgency in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast and is virtually considered a terrorist organization by both Washington and Brussels as well as Ankara. Turkey, a pivotal Nato member since 1952, has the second-largest army in the 28 members Nato’s security alliance. While being located in an important geostrategic region, Ankara’s support is always significant for Nato military operations in terms of the use of several Turkish bases and enjoys the nation’s support in the Aegean and the Black Sea. Turkey has had also played a big role in important Nato missions, such as those in Kosovo and Afghanistan.
Erdogan’s current foreign policy is exclusively reoriented to realign Turkish relations with Russia. The duplicity and double standard in the US Policy have extremely disappointed both Turkey and Pakistan. Truly, there exists much resemblance between Islamabad and Ankara in terms of their warranted grievances that the US utilized them up to the hilt, yet without addressing their genuine security concerns, and hence they both form the geopolitical and military tilt towards Russia.

Nevertheless, some reconciliatory signs are reflected in a recently held meeting between US President Trump and Turkish President Erdo?an on the sidelines of the G20 summit, where the US acknowledged Turkey’s right to continue participating in the F-35 fighter jet program, FM Mevlüt Çavu?o?lu said. “Trump himself said it in the meeting: He said, ‘How there could be such a thing?’ He said, ‘…this is unacceptable,'” Çavu?o?lu said, speaking to TRT broadcaster on July 4. In the meeting, Trump said, “‘ We are working on this,'” according to Çavu?o?lu. Trump openly expressed his mindset, but “there is no need to be naive and optimistic in hopes that everything will happen just as Trump says,” the minister said.
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