Turkey’s delivery of the Russian S-400 system in 2019 was not an ordinary event, as this was an unprecedented trend for a NATO member country to purchase an advanced weapons system from Russia. Since then, the deal has not stopped raising controversy and tensions in Turkish-American relations, with threats of sanctions against Ankara. With the advent of a new administration in the White House, the two allies hope to emerge from the biggest crisis in their relations since the 1970s. The following report details the contexts and motives surrounding the “S-400” deal, and the reasons that push Turkey to stick to the Russian system despite the dispute it provokes with the United States and NATO.
David Satterfield had just arrived in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Wednesday, July 10, 2019, looking forward to assuming his new duties after former US President Donald Trump chose him as ambassador to the United States, the most important of which is likely to make a last attempt to dissuade the Turkish regime and its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, from a purchase deal. The Russian S-400 missile defense system concluded with Moscow, the management of the currently complex relations with Turkey, and how not, the same man who held the position of the US acting ambassador in Cairo between August 2013 and January 2014 during a difficult period of relations with Egypt, and was on the top candidates to take over the post of ambassador where two years ago, before the boss decides to keep it more difficult task at that time.
However, it seems that Satterfield arrived late, after he set foot in the Turkish capital only two days, the first parts of the S-400 missile defense system have already arrived at the Murted air base, northwest of the capital Ankara, not far from the American embassy, where Two Russian transport planes landed before landing Russian military equipment in full view of the Turkish media, which proudly reported the moments of delivery on the morning of Friday, July 12 of the same year, in a clear indication of Turkey’s progress in its unprecedented decision for a NATO country to obtain Russian missile defense system.
All this coincided with the third anniversary of the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016; The memory of the close connection to the “Murtad” air base itself, known until September 2016 as the “Akinci base”, as the air force officers plotting the coup made it their main headquarters at the time, and detained Chief of Staff Hulusi Akar before the Turkish special forces intervened to liberate him and his companions, and he was bombed. its own runway to prevent the pilots involved in the coup from taking off, a base that was soon punished for its pivotal role in the coup by converting it from a central base commanded by an officer with the rank of colonel (or higher) and always containing aircraft to a regular base used only to host specific operations and commanded by a lower-ranking officer Its last leader was the general who orchestrated the coup, Akin Ozturk, before his arrest.
Under the state of emergency declared during the failed coup, 60 F-16s moved from the base and were distributed to other air bases in the states of Eskişehir, Konya and Amasya, while the base was renamed by its old name, “Apostate”, which was named after its establishment in 1960 as a result of Because of its proximity to the “murtad” area west of Ankara, an area that has been called by that name since the defeat of Sultan Bayezid I in it at the hands of Tamerlane and his army in 1402, where the betrayal of some of Bayezid’s forces from Anatolian notables and their escape from the battle played a role in his defeat, and then the area was called “apostate” In reference to their apostasy from their duty to support the Ottoman Empire, a name that remained attached to that air base until 1995, when it was decided to change it to “Akinci”, before it returned after 21 years to its original name after another more severe betrayal. (1)
The decision to land the first parts of the S-400 before the anniversary of the coup at this base was not a coincidence, then. The failed coup was at the heart of the tense Turkish-American relations over the past five years, given what Ankara considers an American failure to cooperate in pursuing its masterminds. The most famous of them, according to Turkey’s allegations, Fethullah Gulen, who is in Pennsylvania, and even Erdogan’s veiled accusations of the United States of passing the coup, the most famous of which is his accusation of Joseph Votel, the commander of the US Central Command (USCENTCOM) between 2016-2019, of siding with the coup plotters in the army, as a result of Washington’s constant objection The “purge” campaign that took place in the army and affected thousands of officers, and doubts are constantly raised about its legality.
The Turkish-American relations were strained, and Moscow soon got on the line to put its hands on all the loopholes in that relationship in its continuous quest for years to undermine American alliances and make room for its increasing influence. It succeeded in including Turkey in its diplomatic path towards the Syrian crisis, with Erdogan attending the first Astana summit in January 2017, then a series of diplomatic summits in the Russian city of Sochi since the beginning of 2018, in addition to closing the Russian Kurdish-speaking website, Sputnik, according to Turkey’s desire, and lifting the Russian sanctions imposed on Ankara against the backdrop of the downing of a Russian plane in 2015, and finally and most importantly, Signing the S-400 deal at the end of 2017.
The Russian offer was the first thing Turkey took out of its calculations at the time, while expectations indicated that the Americans or Europeans would be chosen due to China’s technological lag behind its three competitors, but the surprise came in 2013 by choosing China, to start long negotiations that the Turks thought would be the easiest to obtain missile defense system Chinese deal includes a joint industrialized some of its parts and allow Ankara later own system industry and give the Turkish military industries shift good to keep up with its competitors, but the negotiations with China , did not yield hoped the agreement, and then chosen as France and Italy in the last early 2018, and became Turkey is a member of the Eurosam group to develop a joint missile defense system, but the agreement coincided with the signing of a similar and surprising agreement with Russia to obtain the S-400, more advanced than the S-300.
The S-400 was not previously offered by the Russians for sale to other countries, but Moscow opened the door to export it through a deal with China in 2014, after which the latter received the first batch of S-400 batteries in early 2018 and actually put them into operation in the summer of the same year. role came to India to express their desire to get the system itself from Russia in 2016, the forecast is already a deal in October / October 2018 to get five copies of it without delivery begins after the result of the continuing US pressure for now , but when the role came to Turkey was a surprise Not only because it is a country that is less weight than China and India to get such a sophisticated Russian system a few years after the Russians introduced it, but also because the S-400 will be alien to its military arsenal and to its officers who are not accustomed to dealing with Russian or Soviet weapons.
Countries do not create alliances or partnerships for armaments overnight, and countries’ deals to buy central and heavy weapons such as the “S-400” are not done in isolation from their strategic environment first, and what their military arsenal contains second, and that is why China and then India requested for “S-400” “And obtaining the first is already expected and logical. For decades, China belongs to an environment in which it exclusively confronts US allies such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. It also has an arsenal built with a mixture of relatively advanced local technology and Russian weapons, which it obtained at different stages in the history of the two countries’ intermittent alliance, As for India, it was and still is the largest buyer of Russian weapons in the world due to its alliance with the Soviets during the Cold War, and therefore it has a huge Soviet arsenal that it has always searched for partners to develop (Israel has played a role in that development several times recently), in addition to an ongoing conflict between it and Pakistan, which has a long history of alliance with the Americans and an arsenal full of advanced American weapons such as “F-16”, therefore, the “S-400” creates a kind of parity between India and China, as well as gives it an additional bulwark in the event of a war with Pakistan.F-16”, and therefore the “S-400” creates a kind of parity between India and China, as well as gives it an additional bulwark in the event of a war with Pakistan.F-16”, and therefore the “S-400” creates a kind of parity between India and China, as well as gives it an additional bulwark in the event of a war with Pakistan.
Here comes the strangeness of the Turkish-Russian deal, as the Turkish arsenal is almost devoid of any Soviet weapon, as its military imports come almost exclusively from the United States and Europe, as 60% of what Ankara imports of weapons are American, 17% Spanish, and 15% Italian (and Turkey is the largest importer). of the Italian arms in the world), and then 92% of Turkey’s arms imports between 2014-2018 become American and European, according to the annual “Sipri” report (3), in addition to a local military industry that is also based exclusively on technological partnerships with Western allies, the latest of which is Eurosam’s partnership with France and Italy, as we mentioned, also includes the program (4) to develop the “Altay” tank, resulting from a Turkish-South Korean partnership, and a partnership with the United States to produce F-35 aircraft, which was suspended after the start of the delivery of the S-400, And a partnership with Italy and Britain to produce “Attack” helicopters And a partnership with Britain to produce a Turkish fighter plane, andA partnership with Germany to manufacture submarines under a license from Bankruptcy, a partnership with Japan in the field of space and satellites, and many others.
In the same vein, most of the Turkish military industry’s exports go to Western allies in view of its Western partnerships and the Turkish-Western technology that makes up them. Despite the paradoxically tense political relations between them, the United Arab Emirates is the largest buyer of Turkish weapons in the world, as it alone accounted for 30% of Turkey’s exports between 2014-2018, according to the SIPRI report.Turkey is the third largest supplier of arms to Abu Dhabi after the United States and France, followed by the UAE by 23%, the country of Turkmenistan closest to Turkey in Central Asia and also close to Washington since the latter’s invasion of Afghanistan. Turkish arms, and 10% Saudi Arabia, are again paradoxical, despite the radical political differences between Ankara and Riyadh since the Arab Spring in 2011, in addition to a large percentage of exports heading to Pakistan, Malaysia and Azerbaijan (5).
With that huge Western arsenal, a complex network of technology partnerships and Western import-export lines as well, the S-400 will be a stranger on Turkish soil; Strange in the literal sense of the word, as the missile defense system, which is supposed to clearly detect friendly and enemy aircraft, will detect all Turkish military aircraft as “unknown” objects except for any purely Turkish-made aircraft, due to Moscow’s refusal to give the electronic codes of “S- 400” for the Turkish army, and then its inability to change or update the monitoring and tracking tools so as to identify the types of aircraft present on Turkish soil, and therefore the eyes of the missile system will remain “Russian”, so to speak, in addition to Turkey’s failure to benefit from the joint manufacturing that denied it Including the Russians, and we do not know whether it is a copy of the “S-400″The one allocated to Turkey is identical to the original system, or does it not contain all the capabilities of its counterpart operating in Russia, as indicated by the researcher at the American Naval Analysis Center Michael Kaufman, as the possibility of Turkey obtaining a “nail clipper” version of the S-400 is very likely given the ongoing competition between the two countries in The Black Sea, the Caucasus, and the Middle East (6).
Turkey’s membership in NATO has never been a matter of controversy between its main political poles, both secular and conservative. The decision to join the alliance was made under the government of Adnan Menderes, the first directly elected Turkish government that belongs to conservative social strata, in contrast to the secular elites who ruled for nearly a quarter of a century without any action. Genuine democratic elections, and despite the secularists’ interest in Westernization at the cultural level, while the conservatives were committed to preserving the eastern and religious ties of the Turkish people, both poles saw NATO as a cornerstone of the Turkish strategy to confront the obsession with the Russian-Soviet power that surrounded Turkey in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, in addition to On depriving it of assuming its soft cultural role in Central Asia, which is historically associated with the Turks, as well as the natural bias that shaped the history of the relationship of the Russians with Greece and the Orthodox Christians in the Balkans, who usually stood in competition with the Turkish presence, to add to thatThe strong relationship that was formed between Moscow and the Syrian regime under the presidency of Hafez al-Assad, and the Turkish consensus is not excluded from that except sections of the ultra-nationalists, as well as the radical left in the seventies, none of them possessing significant social bases (7).
Russia was the obsession, then, until its star faded with the collapse of the Soviet Union; The Turks breathed a sigh of relief as a result, and they began to extend their bridges east and west to restore their various roles, in the Caucasus, especially with Azerbaijan and Georgia, the Balkans, especially Bosnia and Muslim Albania, and Central Asia, as well as eastern Europe, where Turkey enjoys and still enjoys distinguished relations with Ukraine, and Turkey’s western alliances were Present in all of this, as the Turkish role implicitly received Western support for its constant pressure on Russia in its historical areas of influence, but that happy era did not last long, and Moscow quickly returned to recovery in the late last decade, first by acquiring Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia Secondly, by acquiring the Crimea with all its centrality in the Black Sea, thirdly by expanding in eastern Ukraine, and finally by expanding its military role in Syria.
Finally, the danger that constitutes pressure at the moment remains, albeit the simplest weapon, and it is the Kurdish danger coming from the Syrian Democratic Forces in northern Syria, where its fighters are predominantly affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party, against which the Turkish state has launched a military campaign since 2015 after years of a peace process that did not come It ate it, especially since the party enjoys American support that it obtained after its participation with the Western coalition to defeat the Islamic State known as ISIS, and its acquisition of American weapons and training over the past few years has disturbed the American-Turkish relations; Weapon Perhaps the S-400 batteries were brought in to stop it, but the reality is that the party needs dozens of years before it can acquire a weapon that would pose a threat to the Turkish airspace, requiring batteries of this type, as he points out. Kerim Has, a researcher specializing in Russian and Eurasian affairs at the International Strategic Research Organization in the capital, Ankara, Kerim Has, the party remains a militia with limited armament that needs military systems and strategies of another kind, unlike the S-400, which is usually directed to heavy Western weapons owned by countries with weight, such as the F-16 planes. Or ballistic missiles or something else.
Accordingly, if Russia, Iran, Greece, the Syrian regime or the Kurds are not the enemy that poses a threat, then who can threaten Turkish airspace with advanced Western weaponry, requiring with it a deal the size of the “S-400” that hindered Turkey’s acquisition of the latest American fighter plane with everything In its production program of economic and technical advantages, to bring a strange guest to its military arsenal? Who can fly an F-16 and threaten it with Turkey?
It was not a single plane; Rather, two flew close to the president’s plane and installed missile targeting devices on him and two other planes – ironically, of the same model “F-16” – that were securing the target plane and Erdogan on board on his way to Istanbul, while other planes flew at low altitudes over Istanbul. Another bombed the parliament headquarters in the capital, Ankara, on a long night that witnessed the first military coup attempt in Turkey since 1980; An attempt that failed, but it highlighted many cracks between the wings of the military establishment, and the air force in particular, followed by unprecedented measures to change the balance of power within the army that took place in full swing over the past five years and is still ongoing (12).
In their protest and amazement at Turkey’s tendency to buy the S-400, dozens of decision-makers and analysts in the West asserted that the Russian batteries would be unable to carry out their full tasks without integrating into the structure of the Turkish Air Force more broadly, given that the Turkish Air Force is an integrated weapon. In the structure of NATO, which, for logical reasons, refuses to have the “S-400” as part of it so that the Russian devices underlying it are not allowed to learn the methods and fighting patterns of its weapons, and therefore the Russian batteries will most likely remain a self-contained system, as if creating defensive bubbles around specific targets instead In order to protect the entire Turkish airspace, it is necessary to have a comprehensive defense system, as the Turkish researcher Kerim Has pointed out.
However, this is probably all that Erdogan wants from the S-400, to give him that ability to protect specific targets of the Turkish state from any new coup attempt, and to curb the planes of his air force itself if it thinks of repeating what it did on July 15, 2016. And this time he will have to operate the batteries only, without the need to move anti-aircraft to them and fight a battle for hours as happened three years ago, and given the almost complete Western armament of those forces, it is logical for the man to turn to Russian technology to achieve the required balance, but it is an exciting trend. To questions about his grip at home, which seems to remain vulnerable to a similar coup scenario, despite all the measures taken against the officers opposed to him.
US officials say that a number of their Turkish counterparts expressed at a meeting in 2018 their desire to purchase a missile defense system to face several risks, and among the main dangers they mentioned was the Turkish Air Force itself. “A Turkish official has indicated that Turkey’s air force remains the most significant threat to the current government, as it owns NATO planes and used them before in an attempt to strike government facilities and assassinate President Erdogan,” said a US official who attended the meeting without revealing his identity to Reuters. While another pointed out that there is a crisis of confidence between Erdogan and his air forces, and that the integration of these forces into the broader NATO system is something Erdogan does not want, because it gives them wide control over Turkish airspace despite the protection it provides for its airspace, and perhaps this explains Turkey’s continued desire to obtain On US Patriot batteries, he confirmedDefense Minister Hulusi Akar in the wake of the arrival of the S-400 in Ankara, as well as its continuation in the “Eurosam” project, as the traditional defense projects in harmony with the Air Force to protect Turkey from traditional dangers .
For his part, the distinguished Turkish researcher, Soner Cagaptay, believes that protecting the regime is part of the motives of the S-400 deal, but the main motive remains the eroding trust between Ankara and Washington regarding the Kurds in the midst of the Syrian chaos, with which Turkey’s atmosphere becomes vulnerable to various types of weapons that have spread There, specifically in the hands of the Labor Party, especially if it obtains more advanced American weapons if what gives them autonomy is settled. As for the Russians, they have a central ally, which is the Assad regime, and therefore they are more flexible in abandoning the good relationship with the Kurds, which was demonstrated Putin is indeed, as Caghabati points out, and explains Turkey’s trend towards a Russian missile defense system, although it will not be used to confront the Kurds’ simple weapons, but he expresses a good relationship between the two rivals that will help Turkey secure its airspace in the future in the face of one of the most volatile regions of the world.
But the loss of confidence in the structure of the Western alliance and rapprochement with Russia, despite previous historical enmities, is not a pattern initiated by Turkey. It was preceded by a few eastern European countries that began wooing the Russians under the influence of the right-wing wave despite the conflict of interests, as well as several countries in the Middle East that partially lost confidence in Washington after That it tried to harmonize with new political forces after 2011, and came to believe that a close relationship with Russia – not conditioned by democratic or human rights steps, of course – is important to secure the political systems in it, which go hand in hand with the usual US military ties, but Turkey is following in those footsteps. It was a heavy surprise considering its central NATO army; Erdogan seeks to undermine its repercussions on the inside, not only by buying a strange Russian air system for air force officers and able to stop them, but also by supporting Russian-friendly wings within the army itself.
The “Eurasians”, as they are known within the ranks of the Turkish military, are a group of ultra-nationalist officers who are described in a Wiki Leaks document as “long-standing desire to find an alternative to the United States, and looking forward to closer relations with Russia”, as opposed to the Semanticists, who believe that Turkey’s interests remain closely related to NATO; And the last group whose star was on the way to decline, according to the document, which dates back to 2003, which indicates a deep knowledge of decision makers at the American embassy in Ankara for a long time, but the irony is that the Eurasians have been under Erdogan’s fire for a long time over a decade when he allied with the movement Colin, before the alliance turns hostile, and so the Eurasians become the new president’s friends to fill emptied positions in the army and judiciary.
The Eurasians, with their Russian connections, played a central role in the Russian-Turkish coordination during the Euphrates Shield operation, just as they did to defeat the coup in order to protect their new positions. Foreign Policy magazine indicates that one of the stars of facing the coup in the army, the Eurasian officer Zakai Aksakalli, was the commander of the special forces in Euphrates Shield after being promoted, in addition to the increasing role of the “Dogo Brinkek” group, the old lawyer and an extremist secular nationalist who hates the West and the leader of a powerful wing within the security services. Together with Erdogan’s loyal men from the Islamist youth who fill the ranks of the “Sadat” security services company and aim for “military-industrial cooperation between Islamic countries”As its official website indicates, it is believed that it contributed to confronting the putschists in the streets three years ago.
The coup, then, in Turkey represents a real danger, but does it come from the Atlanteans, as is the case today, or from the Eurasians, as it was in the past? It is a relative issue decided by the nature of the political scene, and of course decided by Erdogan according to his changing alliances and the international ties that entail, and his options at this moment are that the nationalists’ fire is better than Gulen’s paradise, and that a very rugged coordination with the Russians is better than a familiar alliance with the Americans who are no longer on good terms With their allies within the Turkish army, the “new Turkey” seems hostage to a very old game until now, contrary to what Erdogan wanted in his early years, a game closely linked to the Moscow-Washington bilateral as it has always been since the years of the Cold War.
In this context, it is possible to understand the most important motive for the S-400 deal. The considerations of the deal are not purely military, although it is useful, as we mentioned, to fortify the regime against any other coup attempt, as well as in a confrontation with Greece or the Labor Party in the future if its armament exceeds the lines. Rather, they are mainly political considerations that aim, through Russian batteries, to undermine the centrality of the Atlanteans in controlling the Turkish airspace through Russian training to operate the batteries, which will most likely go to the Eurasians, which was confirmed by a Turkish official in an interview with the former advisor for military affairs and the writer currently Mateen. Corgan said, “The purchase of the ‘S-400’ is no longer a technical issue, but has turned into a purely political process… Decision makers and citizens see it as a matter of sovereignty.” https://www.youtube.com/embed/LfV4oIywGa8?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=ar&autohide=2&wmode=transparent
While the lines of Islamists and nationalists are complicated within the military and security services, without knowing whether a possible clash between them as old enemies looms on the horizon, and while the star of the Atlanteans declines, as predicted by the WikiLeaks document, and the batteries of the Russians become a strange and new guest on Turkish soil, the position of the Turkish street remains. Mixed between welcoming the Russian weapon motivated by nationalist sentiments, according to an opinion poll conducted by Kadir Has University, which showed 44% approval of the deal, 25% objection and 31% abstention, and the most popular adherence to NATO membership in view of the increasing dangers and ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. , which was revealed by the same poll, which showed that 70% of Turks today support NATO membership; Support has been increasing since 2011, in contrast to before, when the ratio stood at 53% in 2010.
Finally, despite Turkey’s exit from the F-35 fighter jet development program and the possibility of economic sanctions against it, the United States and the Turkish regime hope to exit with the least possible losses in the relationship between the two parties. For its part, Turkey remains clinging to the political benefits brought by the deal with Moscow, with a margin for negotiating the possibility of freezing the system’s operation in the event of an agreement to provide alternatives with the United States and NATO, a deal that the Trump administration did not seem to mind accepting, while still The position of the Biden administration is ambiguous.In light of the continued rule of tug-of-war between Ankara and Washington, Erdogan hopes to succeed in managing the contradictions faced by Turkish politics between the importance of getting closer to Moscow to achieve Ankara’s political goals on the one hand, and the imperative of preserving American ties to protect against traditional dangers on the other hand, and maintaining loyalty The extremist nationalists of the officers, and the establishment of a separate arm of the conservative fighters at the same time, and between breaking the fork of the Air Force at home and purging it of the putschists, and preserving its readiness, level and experience of its senior officers at the same time; Threads all converge in the knot of the “S-400” deal, perhaps its progress will determine whether Erdogan will be able to catch all these threads, or if one – or all of them – will escape from him.Perhaps its course will determine whether Erdogan will be able to grab all these threads or whether one – or all of them – will escape him.Perhaps its course will determine whether Erdogan will be able to grab all these threads or whether one – or all of them – will escape him.