, 16 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
Many people keep asking me what is going on regarding Trump-Erdogan meeting and why Trump seems like taking a step back in imposing sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of Russian S400 systems. Here is what's happening:
Almost ten years ago, Turkey started negotiations with U.S. and European defense contractors to buy air defense systems to bolster its three-tiered Mediterranean air defense system and integrate into NATO's existing ones.
Around this time, several pro-Iranian groups in Turkey organized a humanitarian aid flotilla to confront Israel's blockade of Gaza. The bloody brawl on Mavi Marmara ship pitted Turkey and Israel against each other for many years to come.
Making Israel and Turkey adversaries was a huge victory for Iran. 12 days later, Turkey voted against the 4th round of sanctions against Iran in the UN Security Council and significantly delayed NATO's plan to install radar system in southern Turkey.
While Israel and Turkey had been fighting, Turkey requested to purchase around $7 billion worth Patriot missile systems. Due to Turkey's consistent attacks on Israel on almost every platform, the U.S. Congress blocked the sale. Turkey tried hard. But Congress kept saying no.
The Syrian civil war intensified Turkey's search for air defense systems. Turkey again appealed to defense contractors in the U.S., Europe, Russia and China. This time, Turkey requested the technology transfer, which was a red line for any defense contractor.
Only China agreed to a minimal technology transfer and Turkey agreed to work with the Chinese. That deal infuriated the U.S. and NATO. Under pressure, Turkey had to cancel.
The Turkish military was a battleground between pro-NATO and pro-Russian generals. The failed coup attempt in 2016 allowed Erdogan to purge all pro-NATO generals, with the generous help from Moscow and Russian-backed generals.
Turkey is the most powerful NATO ally in Russia's neighborhood and there couldn't be a bigger victory for Putin than weaning Turkey away from the U.S. and NATO. Selling S400 to Turkey is a great first step to sink Turkey-U.S. alliance.
Washington insiders say Turkey has no choice but to purchase S400 systems as a payback for killing their ambassador, downing their jet and also the help they got from Moscow during the coup attempt.
How can Turkey satisfy both Russia and avoid U.S. sanctions? Easy. The same way Saudi crown prince murdered and cut into pieces a Washington Post columnist and got away. By buying American arms.
When Trump and Erdogan met this week, Erdogan played into Trump's two vulnerabilities: Blaming Obama and buying American weapons. Erdogan told Trump: "Look, we did try to buy U.S. Patriot systems, but the Obama administration and Congress blocked it."
We need to defend our country, Erdogan told Trump, and we need to buy it from somewhere. If you're not selling, we will buy from Russia.
Erdogan also told Trump that sanctions would be unfair because Turkey is buying 100 aircraft from Lockheed Martin. Turkey also already paid $1.4 billion for F-35 fighter jets and will buy 116 F-35s jets and will keep paying for those.
Without Turkey, Erdogan said, Lockheed Martin's F-35 program won't be successful because Turkey is a part manufacturer as well.
Basically Erdogan told Trump that it's Obama's fault that they're buying Russian systems (Trump agreed) and that Turkey shouldn't face sanctions because Turkey has an ongoing, large deals with U.S. defense contractors.
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