Despite continuous threats to impose harsh economic sanctions against Turkey and the US Senate's Foreign Relations Committee already approving the move, Washington is unlikely to follow through on its promise, Yusuf Erim, political analyst for Turkey’s state-run broadcaster TRT World opined. He noted though that these threats will not simply go away.
"The threat of sanctions is a more valuable foreign policy instrument for the US then the actual imposition of sanctions [...] I don't think sanctions will be imposed but they will continue to hang over Turkey's head like the Sword of Damocles", Yusuf Erim said.
The analyst added that the White House has been successfully delaying the introduction of sanctions against Ankara so far, while Congress has been genuinely seeking to impose them.
Congress' attempts have not gone unnoticed by Turkey, which threatened to end the US presence on two of its bases if sanctions are imposed. One of them, Incirlik, is widely believed to hold stockpiles of American tactical nuclear weapons, while the other, Kurecik hosts an early-warning radar station which is crucial for the THAAD missile defence system in Europe.
Yusuf Erim indicated that such actions would be in line with a standard approach of diplomatic reciprocity. The analyst stressed that the loss of these bases would be a "blow to US operational capacity in the Middle East", but in fact Washington will lose much more if it follows through with its sanctions threat after all.
"The bigger loss would be the irreparable damage to the US-Turkey relationship caused by the imposition of sanctions. This would be a counterproductive step, pushing Turkey further away from the US […] It looks like CAATSA will cause many problems for the US as more and more of Washington's allies like India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE have expressed interest in acquiring Russian arms", he said.
US Sanctions Over S-400 Purchase
The US Senate's Foreign Relations Committee recently approved a bill, suggesting the imposition of economic sanctions over the purchase of Russian S-400 systems, as well as over Ankara's latest military campaign in northern Syria against American allies - local Kurdish militia. The bill is yet to be reviewed by the two houses of Congress and signed by the president.
Washington has repeatedly warned Turkey that its purchase of S-400 systems may result in sanctions and other punishments, namely cessation of F-35 jet supplies. The US claims that the system is incompatible with the NATO defence grid and can potentially compromise the F-35's technologies, revealing information about the fighter to Russia.
Turkey dismissed these concerns and rejected Washington's demands to get rid of the newly acquired air defence systems. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated on a multitude of occasions that S-400s are crucial for the country's national security and are not going anywhere.
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