Common ground needed in Ankara-Washington ties

Published 17.05.2019 22:46
Updated 18.05.2019 00:08

Turkey and the U.S. have recently hit a rough patch in their long history as allies. The S-400 crisis is deepening, and quickly spreading fake news continues to make things more complicated than ever. Last week, it was widely written in media that Turkey annulled the purchase of the S-400 missile defense systems from Russia.

That rumor was so thoroughly circulated that Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoğlu had to make a statement that it was not true. However, it is apparent that, because of the S-400 missile defense systems, the crisis between the two countries is deepening. The U.S. continues to try to bully Ankara, and Ankara is firmly resisting the pressure. As a result, things continue to get more complicated. The procurement is bound to trigger the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) of 2017, meaning a number of Turkish governmental institutions and defense companies will be barred from working with their American counterparts. It was also made clear by Washington that the procurement will endanger Turkey's position in the F-35 program.

Currently, neither side willing to be flexible on their position. In addition, NATO is being stubborn regarding a member's use the S-400 system, although the introduction of the missile systems requires the NATO identification Friend or Foe system to be installed; nevertheless, the organization remains firm in its stance. Turkey is also being threatened by the U.S. with exclusion from the F-35 program.

In my opinion, these are far from clever steps on the part of the U.S. and NATO. Being pushy and intolerant has pushed Turkey to work more closely with Russia. Turkey has said from the beginning that it will engage in a multifaceted foreign policy and will act according to its own advantage and interests, not according to the interests of other powers.

But Washington's tone simply pushes Ankara further away. In fact, the issue has been so highly publicized that the two sides couldn't go back even if they wanted to, for risk of losing face in the international arena.

The fact is, both sides need each other. A Turkey with strong ties to the U.S. and NATO is much stronger than a Turkey that only has ties with the Eastern bloc. Likewise, the scenario of the U.S. with no ties to Turkey means a weaker and lonelier Washington in the Middle East and isolation from the East.

I believe the two sides will be able find rational middle ground. Perhaps the issue should be briefly set aside to cool so effective, productive dialogue can be conducted between the sides involved.

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