When did the S-400 saga start for Turkey? - MEHMET ACET

When did the S-400 saga start for Turkey?

An important turning point is fast approaching in terms of Turkey-U.S. relations. After the local elections of March 31, it looks like the S-400 missile defense systems, which Turkey inked the purchase deal for and partially paid Russia for, is set determine Turkey’s main agenda for the following months.

If we think that the missiles will be delivered to Turkey by July and the deployment is going to be carried out around October, we may presume that the months of April, May, and June are going to be very tough.

Recently, the Americans started to use “threatening rhetoric” regarding this issue. Authorities openly made statements that if Ankara insists on the purchase of S-400s, the sale of the Patriots will be off the table, the delivery of the F-35 fighter jets, in which Turkey was one of the partners of the project, will become more difficult, and in addition to all of the above, a series of sanctions will be imposed on the country.

Obviously, they reached a common understanding and by taking advantage of the impact any statement about Turkish-American ties will have on the markets, they were trying to force Ankara out of this deal.

On the other hand, there is no sign that Ankara is going to submit to these pressures and heed the demands of the U.S., who is using blackmail tactics and threatening rhetoric to subjugate Turkey.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who recently expressed his views about this issue in his party’s political rally in Diyarbakır said “This isn’t just about S-400 defense systems, it is also about the fact that Turkey is acting on its own with regards to many developments taking place in its region, primarily the Syrian issue. It is very clear why Turkey bought this defense system and how it is going to use it.”

A while ago, Erdoğan said in an interview aired by Turkish-language channel Kanal 24 “We sealed the deal regarding the S-400 issue, there is no turning back. We made an agreement with the Russians, we are going to make joint productions and maybe we are going to produce S-500 after the S-400.”

This issue was also brought up by the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party’s spokesman Ömer Çelik on Monday.

In his statement, Çelik said “with the Syrian war, Turkey’s need to have an air defense system became an absolute necessity.” He also explained how the S-400 became a part of Turkey’s agenda.

It is true that with the Syrian war raging next door, Turkey’s urgent need regarding the air defense systems became, “blatantly obvious,” in the words of many in military circles.

If we are to determine an exact date, we can say that this flaw was first seen clearly after a certain development in 2012.

Well, what was that development?

The shooting down of a Turkish jet by the Assad regime in Syria, using an alleged violation of the Syrian air space as an excuse.

With this development, it was first discussed to shoot the regime’s batteries and military facilities in the security meeting held in Ankara.

When concerns were expressed regarding Syria’s strong air defense systems in the meeting, naturally the question that “what does Turkey’s strength lie in this field” came to the fore.

Then, it became clear that Turkey doesn’t possess an efficient air defense system.

To understand how events unfolded after that, let’s quote the following words of Ömer Çelik:

“Turkey tried to obtain Patriots, but it wasn’t possible. They did not give an affirmative answer to Turkey’s demands. Turkey, whose air space became vulnerable to the outside threats, should have been supported by its NATO allies. Turkey continued to look for ways to provide its own security.”

Following this, there were negotiations held with China after which an agreement was eventually reached. But that deal was renounced later.

There is more than one reason for Turkey’s decision to buy S-400 systems.

The military circles submitted reports to the civil authorities stating that this system is the best available in the world and they also stressed this verbally.

This was one of the reasons.

The fact that it is a cheaper system and Russia responded positively to the technology transfer demands are among the other reasons.

However, in addition to the ones we mentioned above, there is a reason we cannot ignore:

If we recall that the deal regarding S-400 air defense systems was signed during the Sochi Summit between Erdoğan and Putin which took place in May 2017, we should also take into account the impact of the turning points in Turkish-American relations leading up to that day.

Yes, I am talking about Syria again.

The ditch terrorism of the summer of 2015, the security threats against Turkey reached a fever pitch with the failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016, the U.S.’s efforts to realize the project of a PKK corridor in Northern Syria and the deep insecurity felt because of all these were the developments which had an absolute impact on the actualization of the S-400 deal.

Is there any word other than “recklessness” for the U.S.’s attitude in questioning Turkey as an ally over the S-400 issue, as if nothing had happened before?

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