Deteriorating US/Turkey Relations
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
US/Ankara relations have been on a downward trajectory since its ruling authorities refused to let the Bush/Cheney regime use Turkey’s Incirlik airbase during its preemptive war on Iraq based on Big Lies and deception like all wars of aggression.
Things worsened after the failed July 2016 military coup attempt to topple President Erdogan.
He blamed exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, living in Pennsylvania, a figure the White House refuses to extradite to Turkey. No evidence suggests his involvement in what happened.
Erdogan is also furious about US support for Kurdish YPG fighters in northern Syria. Earlier his chief advisor Yalcin Topcu said “(i)t is time to reconsider our membership in NATO,” adding:
“We do not need an organization that displays in every possible way its hostile attitude towards its member. The issue of our presence in that organization should be urgently considered in the Turkish parliament.”
“A traitorously hostile tone sounds in regard to our country and the elected president. It is about the meanness and disgrace shown during the NATO exercises, where the photo of Ataturk and Erdogan’s name were paired with hostile intentions.”
Turkey’s military in the alliance is second only to the US in force strength, threatening pullout a clear sign of strained relations with Washington.
It would be a major blow to the US and NATO if Erdogan leaves, what may happen as bilateral relations worsen — at a time when ties with Russia are strengthening.
In August last year, the Trump regime imposed sanctions on Turkey’s ministers of justice and internal affairs, citing “serious human rights violations,” relating to the detention of US pastor Andrew Brunson.
Erdogan accused him of involvement in the failed July 2016 coup. In September 2017, the Trump regime turned down Ankara’s request to exchange him for Gulen.
Last October, Brunson was convicted of aiding terrorism, sentenced to time served and released. Turkish media close to Erdogan called him a high-level Gulen movement member.
Earlier, Erdogan threatened to cut diplomatic ties with Israel if Trump recognized Jerusalem as its capital and moved the US embassy there — what hasn’t happened even though DJT took these steps.
All of the above shows bilateral US/Turkish relations are uneasy at best, heading for possible rupture at worst if Erdogan leaves NATO.
He refused to cancel his planned purchase of Russian S-400 air defense missiles he and other Turkish officials called a “done deal.”
If consummated with their delivery next month as scheduled, the Trump regime may impose sanctions, along with refusing delivery of F-35 stealth warplanes already contracted for.
On Thursday, Erdogan stressed that “the topic of S-400 is finished business for both us and Russia. Our specialists have undergone the needed training. We expect the supplies to begin in the first half of” July, adding:
Moscow/Ankara relations are “long-lasting.” Turkish purchase of S-400s was agreed on in September 2017, an advance payment made.
Deploying the systems will begin in October, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar explained. US efforts to block the purchase failed.
S-400s have superior defense capabilities. They’re able to engage hostile warplanes, ballistic and cruise missiles, as other aerial objects, and ground targets at distances up to 400 km at low and high altitudes up to 30 km under intense enemy fire and jamming.
Nothing in the West matches them, why Turkey and other nations want them.
In response to threatened US sanctions, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned of “reciprocal steps” if imposed, calling Trump regime efforts to dissuade Ankara from following through on the S-400 purchase “futile.”
“We are determined on the S-400 issue. No matter what the results will be, we will not take a step back,” he stressed.
In response to former acting US war secretary Patrick Shanahan’s threat to ostracize Turkey from the F-35 program if buys Russian S-400s, he added:
“We reject the wording (of) the letter to our defense minister. Nobody can give an ultimatum to Turkey.”
The Trump regime falsely claimed Russian S-400s can access sensitive information about the F-35’s stealth characteristics and other capabilities.
Months earlier, State Department official Wes Mitchell warned Ankara of “consequences” if they’re bought.
Turkish officials stressed that when S-400s are operable in the country, they won’t jeopardize the security of the US and other NATO nations.
Washington wants alliance member states buying only US and other Western weapons, munitions, as well as related products and services.
The Trump regime threatened sanctions on EU nations and enterprises participating in Russia’s Nord Stream II gas pipeline project — wanting much more expensive US liquified natural gas (LNG) sold to European markets over cheaper and more easily accessible Russian gas.
Russia’s world’s largest natural gas reserves and proximity to other European countries makes it the most logical supplier of their needs.
The Trump regime lied claiming Nord Stream II will undermine European energy security and stability. Blacklisting Chinese tech giant Huawei and its affiliates follows the same playbook based on Big Lies.
The same goes for Russian S-400s. Turkey and other nations want them for their superior capabilities to anything in the West.
Threatening sanctions on Turkey hasn’t deterred its ruling authorities from buying them.
If imposed and Ankara retaliates with equal toughness, it’ll be another body blow to bilateral relations with the US — perhaps culminating with Erdogan pulling out of NATO, suspending or ending Turkey’s membership since 1951.
If this happens, will other alliance members follow? Will it discourage NATO aspirants from joining what the US aims to transform into a global military, including member states on every continent?
Turkey is increasingly allying with Russia away from the West. Leaving NATO if it takes this step will rock the alliance.
With attribution to Neil Armstrong on his moon landing, it would be “one small step for man” toward world peace away from perpetual wars short of ending them, but moving in the right direction.
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