'Turkey to get what Libya & Iraq lacked: Russian-made S-400 missile system'
NATO member Turkey announced it made down payment for the purchase of Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft systems, signaling closer cooperation with Moscow amid tepid relations with its NATO allies, which have criticized the deal.
“Our friends have already signed an agreement on the S-400s. A deposit has also been paid, as far as I know,” Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told journalists after returning from Kazakhstan on September 10.
Despite US concerns over Turkey's military dealings with Russia, Washington confirmed its commitment to military cooperation with Ankara.
RT: Why do you think Turkey's buying the Russian missile system? Who does Ankara want the system to defend against?
Adam Garrie: These are a defensive missile system. The question is: what is Turkey concerned about? The biggest issue facing Turkey’s security at the moment is the very real and grave worry about the creation of a Kurdish entity or a state on their borders. Now the only major power in the wider world, let alone the region, who is for that is possibly the US. But the US is being very confused about this. They have sent mixed signals, both to the Kurdish militants that they are using for the proxy war in Syria, and they are sending mixed messages more widely to Turkey.
Turkish relations with the US have generally been quite bad and getting worse ever since the attempted and ultimately failed coup against President Erdogan in the summer of 2016. Turkey was looking for a Russian-style robust condemnation of the attempted coup, Obama, and his administration gave a sort of a mealy-mouthed kind of “sorry it happened, let’s move on.”
Furthermore, Fethullah Gulen, the exiled cleric, who is living in the US, which Turkey partly blames for the coup, is not being handed over to Ankara in spite of repeated request. When you add that to the increasing US armament, in some cases relatively heavy armament of the Kurdish proxies in Syria, Turkey is getting very worried.
The Kurds don’t have the kinds of weapons that one would need – a system like the S-400 to dismount to tackle. Turkey certainly wants to bolster its defenses. It doesn’t feel the US is a reliable partner – either economically or politically. And there is a lot of objective truth to that. Russia is much more geared to being an economic partner to Turkey than the US.
Unlike the US, which both under Obama and Trump didn’t show Turkey much respect, Russia does, which is saying quite a lot – Russia and Turkey were in a very bad position in terms of relations as recently as late 2015. So things have come a long way in a very short time in terms of Turkish relations with Russia. And in that same amount of time, they have deteriorated remarkably rapidly in respect of Ankara’s relations with Washington.
RT: Is it the case of Turkey have fallen out with the US and trying to make a point, or do you think that the Russian missile might be better than the US one?
AG: It’s both. The whole sort of paradigm between Turkey and its relations with America and Russia is the push-pull factor. Russia is offering Turkey things that are very good – they are offering it a lot of trading partnerships; they are offering it walking into the Chinese One Belt One Road (Initiative) together – which both Russia and Turkey are very much for.
Russia’s relationship with Pakistan has improved monumentally over the last few years. And Turkey, Pakistan, and Russia have various mutual interests in Greater Eurasia going toward One Belt One Road. The missile system itself is arguably the best in the world. We’ve of course got the S-500 on the horizon, as well. But the S-400 is simply a phenomenally constructed system with the kind of durability that Russian weapons are known for, and it is cheaper than the NATO equivalents, even though arguably those equivalents aren’t even as good.
So for Turkey, it made economic sense. But the pushing away of Turkey on behalf of the US and its allies has been a very big factor, as well. Turkey feels as though it’s being isolated from its fellow NATO members. It feels as though its security concerns are being ignored, and ignored in the most arrogant way possible from the US. Some in Turkey are even speculating that maybe be the US will turn against Erdogan – a former darling of the US at one time. If anyone in Turkey hears the US talking about “freedom” and “democracy” and these other buzz words, which have lost all of their meaning – well that S-400 system is a good thing to have. Certainly, Gaddafi in Libya and Saddam Hussein in Iraq didn’t have them.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.