We are well aware of the reasons Ankara purchased the Russian S-400 air defense system.
This is a policy, which has set 2030 as its goal, that aims for Turkey’s defense industry to stand on its own two feet, without foreign dependency, a policy that aims for joint production rather than being a market, and one that aims to produce rather than consume.
One of the most important clauses of the S-400 deal is Moscow’s approval of “joint production.”
I had recently asked President Erdoğan on the return flight from Sarajevo whether there were “any problems regarding this issue?”
“There aren’t any issues regarding our joint production with Russia. Since we started negotiating this deal with President Putin, we have been discussing this subject. We will start joint production too, God willing. Everything’s running smoothly,” Erdoğan replied.
The issue of course has another dimension, it has to do with breaking with a longstanding Defense Industry policy to become independent and embark on an quest that was result of this process.
I refer to the fact that since 2013, the mounting tensions in Turkey- U.S. relations and the unilateral U.S. policy to isolate and punish Turkey within its borders have been determining factors that led Turkey to lean toward the Russian missiles.
Everyone now knows that the 2013 process of constantly dangling the carrot in front of Turkey and forming a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terror corridor was all part of the plan to simultaneously transfer the “Rojava Project” to Turkey.
Secondly, even though those responsible for the July 15 coup attempt have been completely revealed, we are still dealing with a U.S. that hasn’t met a single demand of Turkey’s within this context and which continues to ask us if we were the ones who carried out the coup.
There is no doubt that the deep sense of distrust these developments brought about have impacted the S-400 process.
On Nov. 7, 2016 when the reactions against the U.S. had reached a fever pitch, President Erdoğan had told an anecdote:
Long ago, in a town, there lived an envious old scrooge.
He was sour with his neighbors over this temperament of his.
The issue had reached such a point that the town administrator heard about it. One day, the administrator summoned this man and made him an offer: “You can ask me for anything and I will give you whatever you want. However I have one condition: I will give your neighbor double of what I give you.”
This miserly man pondered his offer for a while and said: “ I want one of my eyes to be gauged out. When asked for a reason he replied: “So that both of my neighbor’s eyes will be gauged out.”
Back then Erdoğan had narrated this story to project the U.S.’s policy regarding Turkey.
The U.S.’s corporate policy to unilaterally punish Turkey that started in 2013 has been ongoing for the past six years, as Washington continues to act as if nothing had happened.
Two weeks after Erdoğan’s story, Trump was elected as U.S. President, but despite his softening moves, there is no sign that the U.S. has given us on this policy toward Turkey.
The U.S. media has been buzzing with experts voicing threats such as “Let’s revoke Turkey’s NATO membership,” and “Let’s punish them in such a way that they will never forget it.”
These are all a reflection of the attitude that the “U.S. can do whatever it likes and Turkey has to just quietly obey.”
Compared to these there are also those who suggest a softer approach. But what they are saying is “Let’s wait for Erdoğan to go, then we can repair our relations.”
What these statements also mean is: “We cannot control Turkey due to Erdoğan. The best thing to do is wait for him to go.”
Turkey’s presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın recently spoke with U.S. National Security adviser John Bolton. Kalın warned him that Turkey- U.S. ties would not proceed with unilateral impositions.
For the last six years, The U.S.’s Turkey policy has been run on the basis of unilateral impositions.
True, it may have run this trajectory even before 2013, but it wasn’t this blatant. It seems that unless the U.S. abandons this approach in the upcoming period, Turkey-U.S. relations will continue to be volatile.