By Ilhan Tanir – AhvalNews 2018-04-21 16:25 GMT – The first of three warnings from Washington to Turkey came on Wednesday morning from the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC). Speaking before the committee was A. Wess Mitchell, assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. State Department.
There were several Turkey-related issues Mitchell addressed. Many of HFAC members questioned the detention and ongoing trial of American pastor Andrew Brunson who has been jailed in Turkey for over 18 months. Mitchell stated that Turkey’s indictment, which also included accusations that Brunson was working with both the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and what the Turkish government calls the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ), to divide Turkey are “laughable.” He also said that Turkey appears determined to purchase the S-400 air defense system from Russia, which could spell US embargoes on Turkey.
Personally, this is the first time I have heard the sanctions message given so clearly. U.S. officials have been talking about the possibility of sanctions on Turkey, but Mitchell’s certainty while speaking appeared new.
Furthmore, Mitchell noted some of the potential impacts of the F35 fighter jet project, which has been much-discussed by certain members of Congress in the past, but again, I do not remember if it was ever mentioned by a US administration official.
Turkey has made large investments in the F35, which is considered to be the next generation fighter jet. Some parts for the F35 are even produced in Turkey. Although the U.S. administration has not made any open or veiled threats regarding the F35 in the past, this week, a senior official at the U.S. State Department stated such possibility.
U.S. officials have been particularly unhappy about the fact that a large number of Russian personnel have expected the arrival of the Russian S-400 to gather information from all other military bases in Turkey. Although Ankara is insistent on its message that the S-400 deal is signed and completed, the US continues to harden its stance on the S-400, and it is likely that we will see heavy embargoes as a result.
The second message from Washington came from the Pentagon on Thursday.
This warning came from U.S. Department of Defense spokesperson Dana White. White pointed out that none of the 105 missiles fired by the U.S. and coalition partners France and Britain at three targets near Damascus were cut off by Russian air defense systems. “The Russian-manufactured air defense systems were totally ineffective,” White said while she noted that the system failed a second time when it accidentally sent missiles two days after the attack.
White added that Washington communicated the message to Ankara that Turkey’s S-400 system will not work with NATO systems.
For any other countries besides Turkey that are thinking of pouring money into Russian S-400s, the Pentagon is effectively stating that these systems are useless, and they will be ineffective especially against U.S. and NATO weapons.
Finally, following the warnings from Congress and the Pentagon, a third warning came from the U.S. State Department.
At Thursday’s press briefing, in response to Ahval’s question as to that whether the U.S. government has confidence in Turkish government that the fair and free elections can be held in Turkey under the state of emergency, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said, “During a state of emergency, it would be difficult to hold a completely free, fair, and transparent election in a manner that’s consistent with Turkish law and also Turkey’s international obligations… We are following this very closely. We have concerns about their (the Turkish government’s) ability to hold it (an election) during this type of state of emergency. We would certainly like to see free and fair elections, but there’s a concern here.”
It should not be forgotten that the U.S. administration never designated the 2017 presidential referendum election as fair, free, or transparent last year.
This time around, just one day after Erdoğan announced a snap election, Washington is already calling into question the legitimacy of the upcoming election under the state of emergency.