New York Times: Congress is poised this week to approve economic sanctions against Turkey

Point of View by Enis PINAR

Opinions expressed in these columns are the individual authors’ views and do not necessarily represent the Ten Thousand Turks Campaign’s positions.

Posted on December 10, 2020

New York Times: Congress is poised this week to approve economic sanctions against Turkey

The following article was published in the New York Times on December 9. It is of interest for several reasons, among them:

1- The article reports that “ Congress is poised this week to approve economic sanctions against Turkey for buying Russian missile defense systems“.

2- An unnamed Turkish official is reported as having said that “ Mr. Biden’s advisers have indicated in low-level discussions they were open to considering compromises as they are proposed, including convening a NATO working group to look at whether Russia could indeed penetrate Western military systems through the missile defense systems“.

3- Unnamed White House officials are reported to have asserted that “the sanctions (to be imposed on Turkey) are meant in part to warn Egypt, India, Saudi Arabia and other nations that have signaled interest in purchasing Russian military equipment “.

This last assertion by White House officials is utterly nonsensical because Egypt already received its first shipment of Russian Sukhoi Su-35 jet fighters five months ago in August ( ), and India is due to receive its first shipment of Russian S-400 missile defense batteries next month ( ) ! It brings to mind the old adage about “Closing the stable door after the horse has bolted ” and appears to be yet another contrived reason for denying Turkey the right to diversify its defenses and to determine for itself what best meets its own national defense needs.

I am also copying below an opinion on the same article by Günay Evinch (Övünç), Esq., Co-Chair of the Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC) former President of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA).


Dear Enis

Turkey’s responses to difficulties in procuring defense equipment from the US include acquisitions from other countries as well as the growth of its domestic defense industry. This has been the trend since the 1974 Cyprus Arms Embargo, that taught Turkey it cannot depend on a NATO ally and that it needs to be more self-sufficient to chart its own interests. I know for a fact, however, that throughout this time, Turkey has advocated joint production with the United States, with a lukewarm reception from the US defense industry and a skeptic Congress.

Symbolically, Turkey has and continues to be an example for other countries that seek similar independence and equality. In modern history, this goes all the way back to Ghandi who refused India’s support to Britain’s fight against Ataturk and the Turkish Independence Movement. Ataturk was a great source of concern for Western powers, particularly Britain — the America of back then — who were losing their grip over less developed nations they were exploiting.

So, I believe the S-400 matter and even Turkey’s domestic defense industry poses challenges to and even self-perceived threats for an America which struggles with accepting and fitting into the modern multi-polar world. The US response has been haphazard, ranging from supporting proxy terrorists as the PKK/YPG to fight terrorists ISIS, to allying with mediocrity such as Greece and despotism such as Egypt, whereas mature dialogue and multi-level / multi-sectoral collaboration with Turkey would serve US interests so much better.

Your point is well taken. Friendly countries are starting to procure defense equipment from countries that the US categorizes as adversaries. The old paradigm of friend-and-foe is giving way to a far more diverse, complex, multi-polar world where gray is the new black, the logic of which beckons much better US-Turkey relations.

Warm regards, Günay

U.S. Takes Tougher Tone With Turkey as Trump Exits

Officials said President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. must keep from
alienating the government in Ankara even as the U.S. and European
allies try to curb Turkey’s military ambitions with sanctions.

By Lara Jakes

• Dec. 9, 2020, 11:33 a.m. ET