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Turkey Threatens to Retaliate US Bill Halts Weapons Sales

Turkey Threatens to Retaliate

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan gives a referendum victory speech to his supporters at the Presidential Palace on April 17, 2017, in Ankara Turkey.

A U.S. bill that would halt weapons sales to Turkey risks terminating all procurement deals between the two NATO allies, based on Turkish officials and procurement official. But a U.S. diplomatic source is downplaying the impact from the move, saying it would not function as end of your decades-long defense and security alliance.

Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Cavuşoğlu said May 6 the country would retaliate in the event the U.S. enacts the proposed law, calling the measures inside the bill “wrong, illogical and not fitting involving the NATO allies.”

“If the United States imposes sanctions on us or takes such a step, Turkey will absolutely retaliate. What needs to be done is the U.S. should let go of this,” he added.

Lawmakers inside U.S. House of Representatives on May 4 released details of a $717 billion annual defense policy bill, including a measure to temporarily halt weapons sales to Turkey.

“Turkey along with the U.S. are already strong allies since 1950s. In this period there have been ups and downs in arms trade and programs. None has completely derailed our military ties,” the U.S. diplomatic source said.

Washington imposed an arms embargo on Turkey following the Turkish invasion in the northern third of Cyprus in 1974. The invasion was in reaction to a Greek coup that aimed to annex Cyprus to Greece. The island may be divided along ethnic Turkish and Greek lines ever since.

If passed as part with the National Defense Authorization Act, the U.S. Defense Department must provide Congress which has a set of the partnership relating to the NATO allies. Sales of major defense equipment will be blocked prior to the report is finished.

One immediate casualty could function as the U.S.-led, multinational Joint Strike Fighter put in which Turkey can be a partner. Turkey has focused on get a batch of greater than 100 F-35 fighter aircraft.

The U.S. bill surfaced after Turkey announced in December it would purchase the Russian-made S-400 long-range air and anti-missile systems, the first such system to get deployed on NATO soil. Turkey says the S-400 deal, worth nearly $2.5 billion, is its sovereign decision.

The S-400 batteries are not interoperable with U.S. and NATO assets in Turkey, but would instead operate being a stand-alone system. Çavuşoğlu said Turkey’s relations and agreements with Russia weren’t an alternative choice to its ties using the West and accused the U.S. of attempting to control Turkey’s actions.

“Turkey is not a country under your orders, it’s an independent country,” he said. “Speaking to this kind of country from above, dictating exactly what it can and should not buy, is not a correct approach and does not fit our alliance.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in April told Çavuşoğlu the United States was seriously concerned over Ankara’s decision to purchase the Russian S-400 missile batteries.

In 2013, Turkey was the target of similar pressure from the NATO allies in the event it selected a Chinese manufacturer for the long-range air-defense system program. Ankara later dropped that decision.

In addition to the S-400 system, Turkey is within talks using the European group Eurosam, maker with the SAMP/T system, for the co-production deal to meet its longer-term surface-to-air missile requirements.

“If passed the U.S. bill has the potential to altogether alter Turkey’s Western paradigm,” in accordance with a presidential aide in Ankara.

A senior procurement official said the balance would “kill all U.S.-Turkish procurement business inside a long period ahead.”

“The U.S. is no longer a sole-source supplier with the form of equipment we obtain foreign suppliers. It won’t possess the leverage our American friends hope it’s going to,” the state said.

A senior Turkish diplomat said the bill would push Turkey further in to the Russian orbit. “There is often a lot we could jointly do with all the Russians from engine technologies to satellites,” he explained.

In April, a Russian aerospace official with Rostec said the corporation would give Turkey a joint engine development deal.

Analysts remain skeptical.

“I can hardly begin to see the logic behind the U.S. bill,” said Ahmet Doğan, managing editor at Sigma, a think tank in Ankara. “A NATO ally is proposing an arms embargo on Turkey because Turkey buys missile batteries from Russia, while other NATO allies are queuing up to do defense business with Turkey.”

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