The United States has removed turkey, a long-standing ally and NATO member of its F-35 Joint Attack Fighter program in July 2019 due to its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system. US sanctions imposed under the Countering America’s Adversary through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) have failed to convince Turkey to reverse its decision. To date, these sanctions have had minimal impact. Now is the time to sanction all Turkish defense transactions on a large scale. This will cause Turkey to reconsider its decision to buy Russian-made military equipment.
Turkey is a US strategic partner and has NATO’s Second Army. Its location provides the United States with a tactical entry into the Middle East and is important to American interests in the fight against Russia and the protection of NATO’s eastern flank. US sanctions against Turkey have not nullified all existing defense contracts between the United States and Turkey and only directly impact about $ 2 billion in potential business, a figure below 0, 3% of Turkey’s total GDP. It is therefore not surprising that sanctions have so far been ineffective.
Large-scale sanctions will push Turkey to abandon the S-400 missile system. Turkey should opt for an American missile system, like the Patriot, or a different weapon system from another NATO member. Unlike the S-400 missile system, US Patriot systems have been tested in combat zones for decades. In the Middle East, for example, Saudi Arabia and Israel extensively use these systems against a wide range of real threats. In the past three years, Patriot systems have intercepted more than 100 ballistic missiles. Turkey apparently considers the S-400 missile system to be the most advanced system in the world, but they have no combat record.
In addition, large-scale sanctions will thwart Russian influence in Eurasia. They will encourage Turkey to avoid engaging in future arms deals that provide significant funding to Russia. They will signal to all allies the determination of the United States to avoid Russian military technology.
In addition, large-scale sanctions will strengthen the credibility of the United States. They will show that the United States can draw red lines and act when those are violated. Future threats of US sanctions will be taken seriously.
Some may argue that further sanctions against Turkey will put her in the arms of Russia. They think Turkey could leave the alliance. Despite the growing economic and diplomatic relations between Ankara and Moscow in recent years, their relations are still marked by significant conflict. The two powers have major differences and are opposed in Libya, Syria, and the Nagorno-Karabakh Region. A long history of conflict dating back to the Ottoman and Russian Empires will make it difficult for the two countries to become staunch allies.
US sanctions under CAATSA have failed to persuade Turkey to give up its Russian-made S-400 missile system. The implementation of large-scale sanctions on all Turkey’s defense-related transactions will prompt it to consider other options. Now is not the time for passive politics. The United States must take a firm stand on Turkey. With a softer approach, we might as well invite Russia to install its nuclear weapons in Turkey, similar to the Cuban Missile Crisis, but this time with American and Russian missiles in Turkey. Pressuring Turkey to reconnect with its close ties with the United States will make the world a safer place.
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