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    Are Turkey’s Days in NATO Numbered?

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    Turkey is the latest target for US trade barriers, faces sanctions against top ministers and is even having its purchasing of advanced US weapons reconsidered. The Anatolian country’s leaders have indicated they are beginning to look elsewhere, feeling like the US is trying “to make Turkey surrender in all areas, from finance to politics.”

    On Friday, US President Donald Trump doubled tariffs on imports of Turkish aluminum and steel to 20 percent and 50 percent, respectively. In addition, Trump approved on Monday the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), complete with an amendment that prohibits sales of the advanced F-35 fighter to Turkey until the Pentagon submits a report on relations with the Muslim country in the next 90s days. Previously, on August 1, the US sanctioned two Turkish government officials, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul, for not answering US demands to release an American pastor who is imprisoned in Turkey on terrorism-related charges.

    "We expect the US to be faithful to our traditional friendly relations and NATO alliance," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a speech in the country's capital of Ankara Monday, the state-run Anadolu News Agency reported. "We support diplomacy and negotiations, but it is not possible for us to accept impositions."

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan further accused Trump of "economic war against the entire world" on Monday and said the new sanctions in particular were a "stab in the back," The Telegraph reported. "The aim of the operation is to make Turkey surrender in all areas, from finance to politics."

    The move damaged the Turkish currency even more, with the lira having lost nearly half its value since the year began and some economists predicting that only a loan from the International Monetary Fund can save the country's economy now.

    Bluntly put, "Turkey as a NATO ally is no longer a given," a recent report by New York-based financial firm Academy Securities said, Forbes reported.

    Disobedient Media founder William Craddick spoke with Radio Sputnik's Fault Lines on Monday about whether or not Turkey's time in NATO is coming to a close.

    [Interview begins at 152:00]

    ​Craddick told hosts Lee Stranahan and Garland Nixon that NATO sees Turkey "as somewhat of a liability. The feeling is mutual… since NATO's largest member, the United States, is supporting the Kurds right across the border."

    The journalist said a second major threat "comes to [Turkey] through the land they're now holding in Syria. That actually has created a bit of a liability for them, because this area, Idlib, that they have occupied now, it's not secured like their border region is; it's harder to prevent infiltration and the rebels from Syria… leaking through the border and getting into their country. So they have a number of security issues that they're looking at, and a number of diplomatic tensions that they need to resolve, to get themselves out a tricky situation right now."

    Craddick noted that, because Turkey is situated both geographically and geopolitically between Asia and Europe, "they've always had a role to play, and that role diplomatically involves playing both sides. I'd say, more or less, Erdogan has done a fairly good job of playing the United States and Russia off or against each other, but you know that type of behavior has consequences, and it's started to strain our relations, particularly on the… question of whether or not we are gonna continue to support the Kurdish people against the wishes of Turkey."

    "You also have to consider… the theory that there's a regional destabilization attempt going on, because that means that not only is Syria going to be targeted, but Turkey will be eventually as well… so that's something for Turkey to take into consideration as well," the journalist said. "Things like sanctions that have been placed on the country already by the United States, those are going to start to have an effect, and it does start to mirror, in some ways, what we saw in places like Libya and Syria."

    "Turkey has a bit of a problem because not only are they upset with NATO over various moves they've made in the region over the last few years, but NATO is starting… to see Turkey as a little bit of a liability now as well… that's going to have to be resolved, and one of the ways that it can be resolved may have to be Turkey pulling out of NATO," he said.

    Craddick noted that if the IMF gave Turkey a loan because of its slagging economy, that would give "foreign groups leverage in Turkey." It would also give Turkey more incentive to shift towards Russia and China, the latter of which has become increasingly involved in the Middle East in the last few years. He noted that, as things continue to heat up between the US and Iran, Turkey is liked to choose the latter over the former, despite its own regional competition with Iran.

    "We believe that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is a useful arrangement," Casovoglu told a group of assembled Turkish ambassadors Monday. "Even though the US has abandoned the deal, it is positive that other signatories remain committed." A similar attitude has been voiced by the other signatories to the 2015 agreement which did not pull out of it, as the US did, back in May. The US has already imposed new economic sanctions on Iranian trade and aims to impose even more come November, threatening to punish nations that choose not to abide by the sanctions.

    Cavusoglu also noted that relations with Russia will "remain as one of the fundamental elements" in Turkey's foreign policy. "We are quite clear and transparent as to our relations with Russia. The essence of this relation depends on mutual respect and interests… With the principle of transparency, we put forward our views and stance on the issues over which we disagree with Russia."

    Turkish relations with Russia include plans to purchase advanced S-400 air defense systems, something Washington deeply opposes. The US has sanctioned nations that do business with Moscow, including buying military equipment. However, the NDAA Trump signed into law Monday exempts India from those sanctions despite India purchasing the same systems Turkey plans to buy, Sputnik reported.

    Instead, as punishment, the NDAA bars Turkey from buying Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, an aircraft it's been invested in the production of since 1999 and plans to purchase more than a hundred of, the Daily Sabah noted. The move was opposed by US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who said restrictions on Turkish purchases would affect the US supply chain for years.

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    iran, China, Russia, regional conflicts, tariffs, sanctions, departures, NATO, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey
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