After months of
uncertainty and controversy, both the European Union (EU) and the United States
decided to punish Turkey in the same week for two different violations.
The Associated Press
reported on July 16 that the EU foreign ministers “approved sanctions against
Turkey over its drilling for gas in waters where EU member Cyprus has exclusive
economic rights. They said they were suspending talks on an air transport
agreement, as well as high-level Turkey-EU dialogues, and would call on the
European Investment Bank to review its lending” to Turkey.
The EU Foreign
Ministers deplored that “despite the European Union’s repeated calls to cease
its illegal activities in the eastern Mediterranean, Turkey continued its
drilling operations west of Cyprus and launched a second drilling operation
northeast of Cyprus within Cypriot territorial waters.”
In typical Turkish
arrogance, the Ankara government called the EU decision “worthless.”
Furthermore, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced: “We
have three ships in the eastern Mediterranean, we will send a fourth.”
The EU Foreign
Ministers warned that additional sanctions will be applied against Turkey if it
does not back down from its illegal drilling operations around Cyprus.
months of indecisiveness, Pres. Trump finally decided to prohibit Turkey from
purchasing U.S. advanced stealth F-35 fighter jets, even though Turkey had
already paid a billion dollars for the 116 jets it planned to buy and had
participated in the program to manufacture parts of the aircraft which after
cancellation would result in the loss of around $10 billion for Turkey’s
On several occasions,
Pres. Trump made excuses for Turkey’s purchase of S-400 Russian missiles by
wrongly blaming the Obama administration for refusing to sell U.S. Patriot
missiles to Turkey. In reality, Turkey was the one that did not accept the
terms of the U.S. proposed sale.
On the other hand,
Pres. Trump was full of effusive praise for Turkey’s President Rejep Tayyip
Erdogan at a time when NATO leaders and the U.S. Congress and security
officials were warning Trump that selling the F-35’s to Turkey would compromise
the jets’ secrets and violate the inter-operability of the Russian missiles
with NATO’s military systems.
Given the obvious
dangers to US national security posed by Turkey’s purchase of the Russian
missiles, Pres. Trump had no choice but to cancel the agreement to sell the
F-35 jets to Turkey. Otherwise, Pres. Trump would have been caught in the
ridiculous situation of putting “Turkey First” rather than his favorite slogan,
The White House
announced on July 17: "The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence
collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced
capabilities." It said that Turkey's decision to purchase the Russian
S-400 air defense system renders its continued involvement in the F-35 joint
strike fighter program impossible.
Ellen Lord, U.S.
Undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, stated: "The
U.S. and other F-35 partners are aligned in this decision to suspend Turkey
from the program and initiate the process to formally remove Turkey from the
In his usual arrogant
fashion, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned the U.S. that if it
places sanctions on Turkey, his country would retaliate with its own set of
sanctions against the U.S. Besides making big-mouth pronouncements, let us see
if Turkey will actually carry out its threats. Clearly, U.S. economic sanctions
would cause the complete collapse of Turkey’s fragile economy.
Pres. Trump, who often
ignores U.S. national interests at the expense of profitable business
arrangements, claimed that Turkey was willing to purchase billions of dollars’
worth of F-35 fighter jets. As usual, Pres. Trump exaggerated the figures. The
reality is that Turkey was planning on spending one billion dollars on the
purchase of F-35 jets, not billions. Furthermore, several countries, including
The Netherlands, Israel, and an unnamed Gulf country, have already indicated
that they will make up for the jets not purchased by Turkey, by buying
However, banning the
Turkish purchase of F-35 jets is not the only punishment that could be applied
against Turkey. Pres. Trump signed in 2017 the Countering American Adversaries
Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). He is obligated by this law to implement
sanctions on Turkey for purchasing missiles from Russia. Such a decision is not
up to Pres. Trump. However, Wall Street Journal reported on July 21 that Pres.
Trump is opposed to placing sanctions on Turkey. The President is scheduled to
meet with a group of Senators this week to discuss possible sanctions against
Turkey as pressure mounts from lawmakers to punish Ankara. Pres. Trump has
three options: 1) avoid placing any sanctions; 2) delay the sanctions; and 3)
place a milder version of sanctions. Most probably, the U.S. Congress will
impose sanctions against Turkey if the President fails to do so!
sanctions, Turkey has already suffered millions of dollars’ worth of negative
publicity. Several major U.S. publications wrote editorials last week
questioning Turkey’s membership in NATO.
The Wall Street
Journal’s Editorial Board wrote: “The U.S. and NATO don’t have much choice now
other than to rethink whether Turkey still belongs in the alliance.”
Bloomberg published an
editorial, headlined: “Turkey Has Abandoned the West. Good Riddance.”
Jed Babbin wrote an
opinion column in the Washington Times, titled: “Throw Turkey out of NATO.”
With each passing day,
Turkey is distancing itself more and more from NATO, in favor of Russia. The
combination of EU and U.S. sanctions would be the death knell for Turkey’s
economy and its membership in NATO!