While the new US administration is going to the White House soon, Turkey is the most recent victim of the sanctions policy of the Trump America. This would place Biden in a difficult situation. Biden has openly expressed his opposition to Turkey’s use of S-400 missile defense systems. If Biden is to decide about sanctions, he will experience had times with Turkey—a measure which has inflicted a very heavy blow to the traditional relations of Turkey and the US and has made it hard for Ankara to play in the ground of the United States under the Biden administration.
Last year, Ankara bought and activated S-400 missile defense systems in spite of the oppositions from the United States. The US government is apparently worried that batteries used in S-400 system, run by computed, could read the flight information of F-35 fighter jets during war games among the member states of NATO. This would make F-35 fighters vulnerable as they are the main and most modern aircraft of the US and other NATO members. Americans had already expelled Turkey from the joint project of producing F-35 fighters and refused to sell these planes to Ankara due to developments related to the purchase of S-400 missile defense systems.
The US congress has now imposed new sanctions on Turkey and the arms commission of the Congress has announced that such sanctions have been set against Erdogan for his security policies. In line with these sanctions, four directors of this organization have been prohibited from travelling to the US while their assets have been confiscated and American companies have been prevented from dealing with them especially in arms and weapons.
Turkey has focused its attention more to the production of modern weaponry inside its soil and its sale to richer countries. The number of arms manufacturing companies in Turkey is on the rise. Made-in-Turkey drones are now considered as reliable weapons of miracle especially after they were used in Syria, Libya and most recently in Karabakh. The list of the buyers of Turkish drones is getting longer and longer. Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Serbia have expressed interest in purchasing these drones while Pakistan has placed orders to purchase warships from Turkey.
The prohibition of the sale of warfare spare parts by the US to Turkey could disrupt Erdogan’s ambitious objectives. In manufacturing arms and weapons, Turkey remains dependent on importing important parts from abroad as Turkish companies are unable to produce them. Turkey is presently importing the engine of tanks, drones and aircrafts from abroad. US sanctions on arms parts would make it hard for Turkey to import such warfare from other countries especially from Europe.
This is not the first time Turkey is facing US sanctions. Similar sanctions were imposed after the Cyprus peace operation and lasted for three years. After various changes in international conditions, the US resorted against Turkey. In the wake of the occupation of Afghanistan by the former Soviet Union and the victory of the revolution in Iran, the United States re-discovered Turkey and terminated their separation.
Evidence has it that relations between Turkey and the United States would not improve easily. Even if the parties try to arrange a new relation with goodwill under the present conditions, it will take a long time to normalize relations given the severity of this issue. The normalization of relations between Turkey and the United States to the previous levels will be possible only with changing objective conditions. Perhaps Turkey had not properly calculated the establishment of new relations on that date. Under such circumstances, it would be too much optimistic to expect the improvement of relations through negotiations on several issues. Even if Turkey decides to revoke the S-400 system, the US would definitely find some other issues for problem-creating.
Some Erdogan opposition groups claim that he is not accountable for the wrong decisions he has made and he does not provide answers because he simply knows that NATO and partners in the European Union will not treat Turkey like Iran and there is always a route for escape. They show the red lines and remind that Turkey should act on the basis of requirements of alliance. The economy of Turkey has not yet become crippled as the result of these sanctions and Turkey has not yet paid the price for the purchase of S-400. Erdogan believes that sanctions that do not kill Turkey would make it stronger. He considers sanctions as a measure against Turkey’s defensive initiatives and making it dependent on abroad.
If Turkey fails to reconcile with the US and NATO and is unable to activate the S-400, the 2.5 billion dollar cost of purchase of these missile defense systems would turn into a crisis. And if Turkey is completely drawn out of the F-35 program, the damage would exceed nine billion dollars. The total damage to Turkey of miscalculations of Erdogan’s government would be 11.5 billion dollars. It is estimated that these sanctions would damage the Turkey’s defense industries and would impact the chain of supplies.
Erdogan is asking the US administration and the EU governments not to be influenced by the anti-Turkish lobbies and try to resolve issues through negotiation and dialogue. In his reaction to the US sanctions against Turkey, Erdogan cited a proverb which says “a bad neighbor makes you a homeowner”. He highlighted the activities of the Turkey’s defense industries in building armed and non-armed drones, tanks and other arms and weaponry as the domestication of the defense industries in Turkey has reached 70 percent and after US sanctions, production and manufacture of the defense needs inside Turkey have gain momentum. Turkey considers US Congress sanctions as misguided and an attack to its sovereignty rights.
Erdogan claims that they did not agree with Turkey’s demand in negotiations for the purchase of Patriot systems to transfer its technology to Ankara and therefore he ordered the purchase of S-400. The United States should immediately compensate its past mistakes and lift all sanctions against Turkey. Sanctions have not only targeted Turkey but also the NATO military alliance. We expect the US as our NATO ally to support us in the fight against terrorist groups and stop sanctioning us. While Greece is a member of the European Union, it has bought the S-400 missile defense system but has not gone under sanctions and such double standards are suggestive of biased treatment of Ankara by the United States.
Greece appears pleased of US sanctions on Turkey and considers EU sanctions as an award and instigation for Turkey’s reformists as well as forces inclined to Europe as the European Union remains the shared house of all its member states even despite delays and occasional withdrawals from decisions. The European Union should understand its responsibility to provide security and stability for all its citizens against foreign threats. Greece is hoping that the US and the EU would impose more sanctions on Turkey. The impact of US sanctions would be gradually revealed and the map of EU sanctions against Turkey would expand to include personalities and other institutes. Athens has appreciated Washington’s punishment against the Turkish government for the purchase of S-400 missile defense system and considers as effective the US sanctions and its negative impacts on Turkish performance.