We will address topics such as the meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, S-400s, likelihood of sanctions, and the question of how Trump will respond to this.
We have a wealth of new information in terms of the news/lobby/pulse on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s five-day Japan and half-day China trip, and I want to share all this.
However, first, two notes I believe are important in relation to the Libya crisis.
First is concerning the answer to the question of the development that allows Turkey to take action in Libya.
A couple of months ago, Khalifa Haftar’s United Arab Emirates (UAE)-backed units met in Abu Dhabi with officials from Fayez al-Sarraj’s government and acted like they reached an agreement, only to betray the government and march on Tripoli.
Upon this development, a group recognized by the UN visited Turkey on behalf of the Tripoli government and asked for help from President Erdoğan, saying, “We have nowhere else to turn to but you.”
This was followed by the acceptance of the previous security deal between Turkey and Libya as a legal ground, and action was taken.
After Haftar’s units were thwarted thanks to support from Turkey, he made war declaration-like statements through his spokesperson, and immediately after took six Turkish citizens hostage.
We had touched on what would have happened had the six Turks not been released yesterday.
A top-level security official I spoke to had said, “We were going to go and attack.” How Haftar’s forces would be attacked in such a scenario is important. Let us answer this by elaborating through the words of another Turkish official:
“An F-16 that takes off from İzmir is able to reach Libya through the Mediterranean without violating any country’s airspace. In such a case, we were going to send a warcraft and conduct an operation.”
In this case, we can consider that such an option is still valid in the event Haftar and his forces set their sights again on Turkish targets.
Trump’s words are important but more so are his actions
Moving on to our second topic…
We all know what Trump said in Osaka about the S-400s. We are seeing the “Calming effect” of those words on the economy markets through the regression in exchange rates since the start of the week. The dollar regressed, the Turkish lira gained value.
Trump confessing that Turkey is not being treated justly concerning S-400s, coupled with statements expressing Turkey’s theories, continuing the same attitude in the 35-minute meeting between committees, was valuable enough to not need to wait more than a day and a half.
This stance brought a strong psychological atmosphere in favor of Turkey. At least, we can accept that Trump’s statements may form a sort of “psychological anchor” in terms of markets that see the question, “Will the S-400s come?” as a subheading of the question, “Will Turkey-U.S. relations fray?”
Will Trump take responsibility?
Yet how it will continue to develop is also of great significance. In other words, what Trump is going to do requires greater contemplation than what he said entails.
I can say that there is a “wait and see” approach among the Turkish committee in this sense – which is the right attitude. It is always better to be prepared for worst case scenarios than to surrender to the melancholy of best case scenarios.
When, in the next 10 days, the first parts of the S-400s arrive, what will the Americans do after previously threatening, “We will impose sanctions even if a nail arrives”?
We know what the Congress wants to do. We are able to foresee how quick they can act to enforce the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
What is important is whether Trump, who, as president, has certain authorities in this regard, will take action in Turkey’s favor and develop an initiative.
We do not have a long wait ahead of us to see what Trump will do. When the first S-400 parts arrive as of next week, the Congress and certain personalities around Trump are likely going to want to take immediate action, and that is when we’ll see what the president is going to do.
Based on his statements in Osaka, emphasizing Turkey’s just stance, we know that Trump said, “It is a complex situation, we will see what we are going to do.”
These words may be indicating that he is going to continue to adopt a stance in favor of Turkey. Yet, it should be noted that the first signal he gave in this context – in other words, in the context of what he did, not what he said – is negative.
The suspension of Turkish troops’ F-35 training program in U.S. came up on the agenda not because of CAATSA, but with Pentagon’s decision. Trump could have prevented such a decision if he so wished. Not taking such a step even though he has direct authority makes it necessary to keep in mind the question, “Will he take such a step in another matter where he has limited jurisdiction?”