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Home / World / Turkey bought Russian S-400 missiles to launch NATO aircraft. That's a problem for the US

Turkey bought Russian S-400 missiles to launch NATO aircraft. That's a problem for the US

It questions the decade-long strategic relationship between Turkey and the US, and even questions Turkey's qualification as a NATO member. It is likely to lift a massive deal for Turkey to buy US F-35 fighter aircraft – an aircraft targeted for launching the S-400.

The treaty also consolidates a deeper relationship between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin – two leaders with little time for dissent at home and who need each other in Syria. And it provides the Turkish armed forces with an advanced weapon capable of covering most of Syria and its old opponent Greece (also a NATO member).

The S-400 can shoot down aircraft from a distance of up to 240 miles and catch ballistic missiles that are up to 38 miles away.

Essentially, it is a destabilizing purchase in a region that could do without further destabilization. It is also a statement by Turkey about its independence as a regional superpower.

  The US has warned Turkey against economic sanctions for the purchase of S-400 defense systems.

Tensions between Turkey and the USA

Erdogan and the United States have been disunited for years. The Turkish president said the US had protected Fethullah Gulen, the cleric (and resident of Pennsylvania), whom he held responsible for an attempted coup d'état in 2016. Erdogan said, "The coup d'etat is in your country, they tend it there, it's outdoors."
He has demanded the delivery of Gulen countless times, but there's no sign that the US authorities are joining.

Erdogan and other high-ranking members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have often acted against American sentiment among the Party's conservative nationalists.

Erdogan was also angry at the US alliance with the Kurdish militia in Syria – the YPG – in the fight against ISIS. Turkey regards the YPG as a PKK terrorist group that has been fighting the Turkish state for more than three decades.

When the US last year considered training a Kurdish contingent to guard the Turkish border, Erdogan tweeted: "The US has now recognized that they have established a terrorist army along our borders."

The tension remains. The two sides can not agree on establishing a safe refugee zone in northern Syria. And this week, CNN reported that US intelligence is monitoring a build-up of Turkish tank units planning to conduct cross-border combat operations in the face of growing concern that US troops operating in northern Syria will be caught in the middle.

There are indications that Turkey is preparing for an "invasion" into Syria, but the intelligence service is not yet final, an official said.

  Trump says he is extremely angry. on the killing of Khashoggi, but defending the MBS relationship

Washington, in turn, was punished by serving prison sentences against US citizens in Turkey (Pastor Andrew Brunson as the most prominent example) and Turkish collaborators US embassy view them as politically motivated. The Trump administration retaliated by sanctioning high-ranking Turkish ministers.
There were also tensions over the Saudi reaction to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi – and what was considered an ambivalent approach to ISIS in Ankara, especially in 2015-16. Sporadic threats from Turkey to close the US air force Incirlik were also irritating.

But all these difficulties pale in comparison to the consequences of the S-400 deal. Even before the first deliveries, the US warned that Turkey would be excluded from the F-35 fighter program and stopped training its pilots.

Erdogan said Turkey's exclusion from the F-35 program would be a "robbery" as Ankara has already invested more than $ 1 billion in the consortium that is building Turkey. Overall, she planned the purchase of 116 aircraft.

The US also threatened new sanctions should Turkey conclude the S-400 treaty, prompting Erdogan to claim on the sidelines of the G-20 summit, "There is no question between two strategic partners, I think 'It should not happen.'

US President Donald Trump has proposed diluting the sanctions, but many in Congress are determined to punish Turkey. Under a US federal law (Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act), the government must impose at least five different sanctions on Turkey. How punitive they will be remains to be seen.

NATO is also concerned that the S-400 deal will affect Turkey's ability to work with other Allies. "The interoperability of our armed forces is fundamental to NATO in carrying out our operations and missions," said one official.

  Military vehicles and equipment, including parts of the S-400 air defense systems, will be unloaded from a Russian cargo plane in Ankara on Friday, July 12, 2019.

Putin makes trouble

Russia is of I am of course that it not only sold its S-400 to a member of NATO, but also helped create a deeper wedge between Turkey and the US. The Turkish purchase is also a great showcase for the Russian defense industry. India is expected to be the next customer for the S-400.
And then there is Syria. President Vladimir Putin has seduced Turkey into joining with Russia and Iran in the "Astana" process on the future of Syria, essentially removing the United Nations and the United States. Now Erdogan needs Russian support to prevent an offensive by the Assad regime against the rebel-held province of Idlib, where Turkey maintains peacekeeping troops but also supports several rebel factions.

If Turkey wants to influence the future form of Syria it has to deal with Russia. The purchase of the S-400 has helped to consolidate a necessary, if not necessarily warm, relationship.

Especially the arrival of the first batch of S-400 devices in Ankara on Friday is the most dramatic example of a trend that dates back to the Arabian period spring. Erdogan, who has been in power for more than 15 years, wants to make Turkey an independent and influential power in the region, which is no longer bound to the United States and no longer needs the American nuclear shield that has been protecting them for decades.
  Russian President Vladimir Putin is pleased to beat a deeper wedge between Turkey and the US.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar held up an olive branch on Friday, saying that Turkey is still considering buying US Patriot missiles "to meet our demand for air – and long-range missile defense system ". He also said that the purchase of the S-400 "in no way implies a change in the [Turkey’s] strategic direction."

But the course of the Turkish strategy seems to be fixed.

As Aaron Stein puts it in Foreign Affairs, Erdogan and the AKP "do not believe that their relationship with Washington is nearly as valuable as Washington appears to be."
Steven A. Cook, a longtime Turkey observer, picks up the thread and says Ankara is "not the partner it was before." In the future, US policy should be based on the fact that Turkey is not Enemy of Turkey is not a friend in the United States either. "

And you do not share your best jets with countries that are not your friends.

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