S-400 missiles – The Basis of Erdogan, Biden’s Relations

Despite the divergence of views between the US and Turkey on many issues, the issue of the Russian S-400 missiles, which Turkey bought from Russia, is the most prominent issue in the file of recreate the alliance relations between Ankara and Washington, both members of the NATO. That is what David Satterfield, the US ambassador in Ankara, indicated while expressing his hope that this problem would reach a fast solution.

It is noteworthy that the former president, Donald Trump, imposed a series of sanctions on Turkey, when the deal went through which acquired the Russian air defense system, in which the US sees a threat to the NATO forces in this region.

In the same context, the US ambassador states that the Biden administration is moving towards shaping new political approaches in some issues related to Turkey. He is worried that his country is committed to Turkey abandoning the Russian S-400 missiles, which was the position of the former president’s administration.

Satterfield also indicates that his country imposed the sanctions in a very sensitive and accurate way, with the aim of not affecting the Turkish defense industries, pointing out that the National Defense Authorization Law declared that Turkey should not have the S-400 system in order to avoid to be covered by the JASTA sanctions.

Nothing has changed and Turkey missed opportunities

For his part, the Pentagon spokesman, John Kirby, worries that nothing has changed in the United States’ view of this issue despite of the presidents change and its administration. He points out that Turkey is an old considerable ally for NATO.

“Ankara’s decision to purchase S-400 missiles does not erase with its obligations as an ally of the United States and NATO,” Kirby added in his statement, at the same time denying Ankara’s justifications for buying that system that it came after its failure to obtain the American Patriot missile system.

Kirby shows that in the past decade, Ankara had multiple opportunities to complete the purchase of the Patriot defense system from the United States, but it preferred to purchase the S-400 that gives Russia money, access and influence, he said.

It is noteworthy that the spokesperson for the Turkish presidency, Ibrahim Kalin, expressed during a telephone conversation with the US National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, a desire to establish strong, lasting and constructive relations between both countries.

Red Lines

Commenting on the possibility of restoring relations between Turkey and the United States, the researcher in international relations Jalal Abd al-Ati points out that Turkey is currently suffering from a relations crisis. This cannot be divided by two, as it has reached the stage of being obliged to choose to be either in the American Bank or The Russian Bank, considering that the Turkish government made a mistake during the past four years in exaggerating its relations with Russia, which reached the alliance stage in some cases.

“The arrival of the Democrats to the White House confused the Turkish calculations, which were based on the issue of Trump’s assumption of a second term, especially since the Democrats will show greater concretion of the Russian influence in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Central Asia,” Abd al-Ati explains, pointing out that Trump’s loss for the presidential elections was a major turning point in the international relations and alliances.

It is noteworthy that Turkey has concluded a series of understandings with Russia in several international files, including the Syrian issue, the Astana understandings, the position on the Turkish issue and the issue of Russian gas pipelines in conflict with Europe.

The dilemma of Turkish relations, according to Abd al-Ati, is related to external and internal disparities, explaining: “The Turkish internal situation requires the Turkish government to move more towards the West, especially regarding to what it can provide in terms of improving the deteriorating economy, which Russia cannot provide. Foreign relations prevent Ankara from breaking the alliance with Russia, especially as it has involved itself in bonds that are difficult to break with a decision.

The Losing Horse Bets

In the context of linking domestic policy to foreign affairs, political analyst Masoud Dakouri suggests that Turkey will eventually resort from the flow towards the coast of the United States, and abandon the implied missile deal, especially in connection to the Turkish president’s ambitions to continue in his position, which requires an amendment to the constitution that allows him to run for a third term. “These steps require a kind of political and economic stability in the country and raising the declining popularity of the ruling party, all of which is linked to correcting the tide of Turkish diplomatic political moves, especially since Turkey’s tragedies have deepened even more after its alliances with Russia and China,” he said.

Dakouri also believes that the statements of US officials have made the equation clear: “Back off the Russian missile deal in exchange for the return of relations,” considering that if the Turkish government is intransigent in continuing its relations with Russia, it will have gambled on the losing horse.

Sources in the US Defense Department have revealed that the Biden administration will not lift the ban imposed by his predecessor Donald Trump’s administration on Turkey’s purchase of F-35 stealth fighters, in response to Ankara’s purchase of Russian air defense systems, according to the “Defense One” website.

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