On Wednesday, a U.S. decision made the headlines as the White House decided to remove Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program - a move it has repeatedly threatened to use against Turkey.
The decision came after Turkey received the initial delivery of the Russian S-400 air defense system. The U.S. claims that purchasing the S-400 is a strategic move that threatens the U.S. and NATO.
But, is that really so? Did Turkey deliberately choose to purchase the S-400 to cross NATO and the U.S.?
We have been discussing these issues for months but since the critical decision finally came from Washington on Wednesday, let's clarify the facts once more.
Turkey is not aiming to change strategic partnerships. It is not moving from one bloc to the other. It doesn't plan to develop policies against the security of NATO. Everyone should remember that it was the U.S. under Barack Obama who did not want to sell the Patriots to Ankara, and it was Turkey who suffered from the terror threats on the Syrian border and needed a security system to protect its own people and land.
I was one of the journalists who attended a private breakfast with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last Sunday. There the president made it clear how important it was for him to stress the timeline and series of events.
He stressed a number of times that it was the U.S. who pushed Ankara to purchase the S-400s, and Turkey is not planning to use them against anyone unless there is an attack on its soil.
I believe that U.S. President Donald Trump also sees the big picture. He made statements saying that Turkey did not have any other choice since the Patriots were not on the table. But despite Trump's statements, Washington went ahead and annulled the agreement concerning the F-35 jets.
I think this is a short-sighted decision. Washington should know that Turkey, as one of the oldest and biggest allies in NATO, is capable of conducting multifaceted diplomacy and foreign policy with Erdoğan at the helm, and it is in the best interests of Middle East security to develop good relations with Russia concerning Syria.
In addition, the decision to remove Turkey from the program will cost other partners as well. It will increase the price of the jets. Turkey has paid quite a lot for the F-35s. The money should also be refunded.
Turkey has been involved in the F-35 project since 2002. It is a consortium consisting of the U.S., Britain, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Norway, Australia and Turkey. Turkey has been taking part in the production processes as well. There are 10 firms working to develop the F-35 jets.
So, perhaps the decision to kick Turkey out of the project has been the plan from the beginning. It is not clear how Turkey's place will be filled. Besides, it will be a great opportunity for Moscow to strengthen its economic relations with Ankara, which is obviously not in Washington's interest.
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