The year 2019 has so far been such a rollercoaster that it has become a necessity not to keep the agenda too busy with the local elections and closely follow what is happening around us.
Today, it is my intention to make a “scenario analysis” regarding Turkish-American relations following the March 31 elections.
First of all, let’s point out a few facts and then move on.
Right before the trilateral summit that took place in Sochi between Turkey, Russia, and Iran, an authority from the U.S. embassy in Ankara who did not want to give his name told journalists the following:
“If Turkey purchases the S-400 systems, it will not be able to purchase the Patriots; its participation in the F-35 program will be imperiled; and it may be subjected to U.S. sanctions”
Following this, we have also witnessed similar statements made from higher level officials of the U.S. speaking on behalf of Washington.
“We've also made it clear that we will not stand idly by while NATO allies purchase weapons from our adversaries,” U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said during the Munich Security Summit. It was so obvious that these words were targeting Turkey.
Clearly, a new attitude has been assumed in Washington and they have decided to increase the pressure on Ankara so it will annul its purchase of the Russia S-400 missile system.
Mike Pence, who is not well received in Ankara since he was the person who fueled up the Brunson crisis in August, had a meeting with President Tayyip Erdoğan one day before he headed to the Munich Conference; a meeting which he requested be kept a secret.
The details of the meeting were later leaked to the press.
It was the same issue.
Pence, by sending Trump’s kindest regards asked President Erdoğan to “give up on the S-400s”, however the president clearly rejected this demand.
After the Sochi and Munich summits were over and everybody returned home, President Erdoğan had a direct phone call with U.S. President Trump.
“My phone calls with Donald Trump bear results,”Erdoğan said. From this statement, it can be inferred that the uneasy atmosphere created by the meeting with Pence was partially cleared up. Again, we found out from his own statements that Erdoğan is going to make an official visit to Washington after the local elections on March 31.
Even at this point, we can presume that this meeting which is going to be held after March 31 will be very crucial.
If you wonder why: it is because the calendar for the S-400 issue is getting even tighter.
According to the agreement made with Russia, this system needs to be delivered to Turkey by July and it has to be installed by October.
Now the billion-dollar question comes to our minds:
Is Turkey going to give up on the purchase of S-400 systems because of the increasing pressure coming from the U.S., or is it going to resist the pressure by retaining its current position?
We all know that the pressure from Washington regarding the S-400 issue isn’t new. What is, is that in recent weeks these pressures have culminated into threats.
Until yesterday, the Americans were telling us to “Give up on this issue” and left it at that.
But now, they are standing against Turkish authorities by saying things like “If you don’t cancel the purchase”…
We can say that such “new conditions” are on the table after having looked at the references we made to the statements of our “top-degree official” in Ankara, as well as according to the statements of Mike Pence.
- If you don’t cancel the purchase, the Patriot negotiations will be over.
- If you don’t cancel the purchase, the F-35 deal will be over.
- If you don’t cancel the purchase, you will be subjected to sanctions.
This is what the Americans are saying right now.
There is no sign that these calls which have reached the level threats are going to change the determined stance of Erdogan.
On the other hand, I’m not going to even get into the “fairness” dimension of these incidents.
If we were to do so, we can only explain these pressures with “Texas Law” or the “Cowboy movies” and say goodbye to the money we paid for the S-400s.
This being the case, it doesn’t seem possible to disregard the challenging effect of two factors as we come closer to the extremely crucial final stage.
First of all, the reflexes of the economy and market whose sensitivity to U.S. relations have been proven.
The other is the result of the March 31 elections.
Even though local elections don’t mean any change of government, they provide a sort of vote of confidence for the government in all democracies in the world.
Those who only laugh at the idea, which sees March 31 as a “matter of Survival” should better interpret the issue from this perspective.