Turkey-US Photograph:( Reuters )
Turkey is a NATO member and this defence collaboration is unacceptable to America but like always there is more to the story
It's nearly 46 days left before Donald Trump leaves office and his administration has finally made good on months of threats to punish the Turkish government.
The United States has finally imposed sanctions on Turkey. The official answer is that Turkey bought the Russian S-400 missile system.
Turkey is a NATO member and this defence collaboration is unacceptable to America but like always there is more to the story.
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife arrived in Turkey on November 16 for a brief visit. The purpose of this visit is not revealed and no official meetings have taken place. Pompeo has not made any official statement either.
The tensions are evident and the unusual nature of his visit raises eyebrows.
Mr. State Secretary does not say a word and he leaves for Washington without meeting any Turkish official. Its been nearly a month since this fraught visit and the US State Department has taken one of its biggest steps in recent history vis a vis Ankara.
It has approved rare sanctions against Turkey focused on the country's military procurement agency. With this decision, the US has banned all export licenses and loan credits to Turkey's Presidency of defence industries and its head Ismail Demir.
The sanctions have been approved under a 2017 law known as CAATSA (countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act). This act has been haunting Turkish-US relations for the last three years. It is now set to erode whatever little was left of the bilateral ties.
The Turkish President is mighty upset. "It is upsetting that the sanctions rhetoric against our country in the united states and the European Union has increased and the processes have mobilised. In fact, turkey expects the EU not to sanction it, but rather realise its promise of full membership that it has not done so for years," said Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The Russian foreign minister is calling it American arrogance. "As far as us sanctions against turkey are concerned…it's yet more evidence of the arrogant attitude (of US) toward international law, and a manifestation of the illegitimate," said Sergey Lavrov.
Unilateral and coercive measures that the US has practised for many decades now all over the world.
In 2019, Turkey — one of America's NATO allies — took delivery of the 2.5 billion dollar S-400 missile system from Russia. It defied warnings that such a deal was incompatible with NATO policies and it defied requests that the deal would let Russia improve its targeting of western planes.
Erdogan declared that Turkey was not a tribal state. "We took steps, we paid, but you did not give us our f35s, and you won't give them. And you have threatened us. You told us to send the S-400s back to Russia. But we are not a tribal state, we are turkey. Turkey!," he said.
He has now changed his tone. Erdogan says he expects America to support its purchase for the prosperity of the region. "From our NATO ally the United States, we expect to support in our battle against terrorist organisations and forces that have plans for our region, not sanctions. We are never a country that chases after conflict or tensions with its neighbours or any other. We are fighting for the prosperity of our entire region and the world."
Trump once declared himself a "big fan" of Erdogan but a lot of water has flown under the bridge since then and acrimonious letters exchanged.
Like this one, where Trump tells Erdogan to not be a fool and that he doesn't want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy.