Turkey and the U.S. are old allies. They need each other. They have been strategic partners for decades. The U.S. cannot lose Turkey since it is the only democratic power in the Middle East with strong ties to the Western bloc. Turkey, on the other hand, cannot lose the U.S. because it benefits from a multidimensional foreign policy and since the relations extend far beyond only strategies or politics.
I am reiterating these points to say that the S-400 crisis between the two countries should not overshadow their friendship and alliance.
The administration of President Donald Trump should recognize this point since there have been phone calls between the two presidents and spokespersons from both sides and a visit scheduled by Trump himself.
The U.S. is trying to pressure Ankara by threatening to exclude Turkey from the F-35 project. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday that the F-35 fighter jet project would collapse if Turkey did not participate.
Like other NATO allies, Turkey is both a prospective buyer and a partner in the production of the F-35s, which went into service in the United States in 2015. It has proposed a working group with the U.S. to assess the impact of S-400s but has not received a response from American officials.
Turkey has reacted to the aims of excluding Ankara from the F-35 project due to the purchase of the S-400 systems, saying it has multidimensional partners and makes decisions according to its interests.
I think it is important to stress that Turkey does not see the purchase of S-400s as a step toward changing its foreign policy. It sees and will see the U.S. as a strategic partner and does not have adverse plans, like having missile systems that might be a threat to NATO.
Quite the contrary. Turkey is and always will be a NATO member. It is a strong country in the alliance, and it is impossible to imagine Ankara acting against NATO's interests. However, Turkey doesn't want to be ruled by the U.S. It is a big country and wants the freedom to engage in relations with as many large powers as possible. Erdoğan's statement, "We were surely not going to remain silent about our right to self-defense being disregarded and attempts to hit us where it hurts," and, "This is the kind of process that is behind the S-400 agreement we reached with Russia," should be understood in this context.
The U.S. needs to relax and set aside its fears that Turkey is engaging with Russia and will be a threat to the U.S. This is a Cold War mindset, but the Cold War is over. There might be tension between the U.S. and Russia, but the world is not bipolar. It is multipolar, and Turkey wants to carve out a place in this multipolar world through multidimensional relations.
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