11:00 GMT26 October 2020
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    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to close US and NATO military bases in Turkey after the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Wednesday, approved a bill imposing sanctions on Ankara after its offensive in Syria and purchase of Russian S-400 missile systems.

    'If necessary, we can close Incirlik, and we can close Kurecik", Erdogan told Turkish channel Haber TV on Sunday.

    Both bases are strategically important to NATO. Incirlik airbase also hosts US nuclear warheads, and Kurecik is a NATO radar base in Turkey.

    The US Senate committee said the purchase of S-400 systems by Ankara is regarded as the basis for sanctioning Turkey through the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. The legislation, if approved by both chambers of Congress and signed by the President, will restrict US arms sales to Turkey and imposes restrictions on officials who were in charge of weapons supplies for Ankara's military operation in Syria.

    At the same time, the head of the Pentagon, Mark Esper, expressed concern about Turkey's rapprochement with Russia.

    "My biggest worry is Turkey's connection with Russia. It is disturbing that Turkey is moving out of the NATO orbit. I have spoken about this several times in public. We must answer the challenge and understand how we can bring it closer to the NATO alliance because it's been an important partner for 70 years", Esper told US lawmakers at the House of Representatives last week.

    Turkish MP from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), deputy chairman of the Turkish delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Ahmet Berat Çonkar says that attempts by US senators to pass sanctions through Congress that "run counter to the 70-year history of allied relations between Turkey and the United States, are upsetting and cause serious concerns in Ankara".

    "It is obvious that a group of lawmakers in the US Congress, dissatisfied with Turkey's independent actions to ensure its national security, has stepped up its efforts against Turkey and is maintaining contacts with anti-Turkish lobbies. We will not allow the vile, hostile initiatives towards Turkey to be implemented, and we will oppose them", he said.

    Çonkar emphasized that the Senate committee has been acting "irresponsibly", not taking into account the interests of the American people, and thereby harming both its own population and relations with Turkey.

    "No country will tolerate its ally supporting, equipping, training and arming a terrorist organisation that poses an immediate threat to it", the Turkish politician said.

    "The situation is completely unacceptable in which the United States, on the one hand, refuses to sell Turkey the equipment and components it needs, and on the other hand, supplies the terrorist group with weapons that give it a technological advantage. This is completely absurd. For our part, we condemn congressional initiatives aimed against Turkey and its relations with the United States and urge them to give up this counterproductive approach. It will be the right thing to do with regard to American interests", Çonkar concluded.

    While Turkish historian and political scientist Professor Mehmet Perinçek believes that Turkey is currently actively seeking to establish itself in Eurasia and the international system as a whole, in response to Western threats.

    "It is absolutely clear that Turkey has moved away from NATO's orbit, but it's not looking to join any other forces. On the contrary, it pursues its independent policy in accordance with national interests and security considerations. There are serious problems in relations between Turkey and NATO, the main ones are the US support in Syria for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)/Democratic Union Party (PYD), its anti-Turkish position on the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, FETO's (the Gulen movement) activities in the US, and Washington's threats to impose economic sanctions against Ankara", Perinçek stressed.

    According to the scholar, Turkey is looking for a place in the new world order, opposing the Western policy of threats and sanctions, but it's not an easy process "since Turkey has been part of the western camp for 50-60 years".

    Noting that the United States uses the term "key country" with respect to Turkey, Perinçek explained that Turkey has the power to "open the door for US plans in the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia, or it may completely close these doors…"

    And Washington's concern is precisely related to the second scenario, Professor argued.

    "Today, when the world has become multipolar, difficult times are coming for the United States. It is no longer a country that can do whatever it wants in the world, carry out regime-changes of governments it disapproves of, or occupy sovereign territories. In particular, the Sochi Agreement has become one of the most important pieces of evidence that the United States has weakened, the age of the Alliance is over, and the age of Eurasia has begun".

    In Perinçek's view, Turkey is not the only country to distance itself from NATO; other players are moving away as well.

    "Trump himself is an outsider to the classical world order from a NATO perspective. He was the one who discussed the possible US withdrawal from NATO. In this context, one can also regard Macron's statements about plans to create a European army and his words about the "brain death" of NATO. After the end of the Cold War, NATO turned into a tool through which the United States exercised control over its so-called allies, which in fact were potential rivals. For this reason, many countries began to leave NATO. They no longer want to be controlled by NATO. And the gradual distancing of Turkey is also a natural part of this process", he concluded.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Tags:
    military base, NATO, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, US, sanctions, Turkey
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