We discussed Washington contacts with former Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ambassador Volkan Bozkır at Parliament’s lobby on Tuesday morning. Last week, a group of parliamentarians met at the U.S. Congress on behalf of the committee and returned to Turkey after being covertly threatened there.
They are not congress members themselves, but through their advisers, they said, “If you buy the S-400s, then we will take a decision in Congress and will not sell you the F-35s.”
Meanwhile, as National Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli was taking quick steps toward the group hall, he was also saying something to the journalists trying to catch up with him.
We found out what Canikli said from the article on Yeni Şafak’s front page yesterday morning:
“F-35 deliveries will be starting as of next year. This has nothing to do with buying the S-400. We have made the payment, and it will be fulfilled.”
Turkey was involved in the F-35 project.
Turkey is among the nine countries that are in the jet’s production project. How serious we should be taking the statements of the advisers of certain congress members is a different story, but as the defense minister pointed out, threatening Turkey with not delivering the war jets in a project that has been paid can only make sense through the term of “usurper state.”
We know that the U.S. has been displaying a determined “concerned” attitude in the S-400 issue from the beginning. From time to time, NATO officials also make statements declaring concern. However, looking at NATO’s approach in a holistic manner, it is clear that in the case that the S-400’s identification friend-or-foe (IFF) system is adapted according to alliance rules, the alliance holds the view that Turkey has the right to purchase this system. Ankara has already explained this. In other words, when the S-400s arrive, the friend-or-foe identification is going to be made as NATO wants.
However, contrary to Washington and NATO, we see that buying air defense systems from the Russians is categorically opposed.
There is a very obvious reason for this:
The U.S., which formats its relations with Turkey primarily through the principle of “military dependency,” is incredibly disturbed that this format is on the brink of breaking down.
Rising the rate of localization in Turkey’s defense industry up to 60 percent, the U.S. objecting to Turkey having a strong defense system – with the fear that it will no longer have the military dependency I mentioned – and Turkey seeing this and turning toward alternative sources is actually the fundamental reason behind all the crises between the two countries.
In this case, it becomes impossible to explain the stance/threat saying, “You are going to be dependent on me in defense,” ongoing since 1945, with any other justification.
At the War-Labor Union’s Defense Industry’s Nationalization Workshop yesterday morning, we listened to interesting evaluations in the area from experts on the topic. One of the presenters said that companies operating in the field of the defense industry in the U.S. act strictly dependent on the state, and that in the case the state policy does not allow it, you will not even have the chance to sell a product priced at TL 1 for TL 10.
How else can we explain that even when you pay for a weapon you want to purchase hitting Congress’s veto?
The decades-old “military dependency” relation I mentioned above also has a Turkey symmetry, of course.
After a Parliament member who spoke at yesterday’s workshop said, “The history of Turkey’s defense industry is a history of treachery,” Vecdi Gönül, who was the national defense minister in 2009, shared with us what he said in a closed meeting. In that meeting, Mr. Gönül said things like:
“After being the defense minister, I saw that there are a few companies among the Istanbul capital oligarchy. These work as the distributors of foreign defense companies. Such a system has been formed. There is also a certain group of people among the military bureaucracy. They are given a 15 percent share of this.”
This is an example explaining how the billions of dollars of funds made up of the people’s taxes were melted in a dirty relation network for decades.
The following statement by Gönül, who was able to share this information with us in a closed environment alone, despite being the defense minister of the term in 2009, both makes this regret reasonable and ends in a pleasant way:
“After seeing that this wasn't the case, we removed the mediator elements. We adopted the method of direct contact with the company abroad. These institutions that were about to shut down started to get back up on their feet in this way.”
The Defense Ministry has currently reached an annual production capacity of $8 billion. Export in 2016 reached $2 billion. As many as 56 percent of the weapons and ammunition used in the air in the Afrin operation and 92 percent of those used on the ground were domestically-produced weapons and ammunition. This operation that ended faster than expected, has, in a sense, given Turkey the chance to test its experience in local defense. Of course, there is a lot more progress to be made because of the deficit in the years wasted.