U.S. president-elect Joe Biden will be better equipped to play hardball with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and will not hesitate to speak up on the deepening autocracy of Turkey’s strongman, Turkey expert Ömer Taşpınar wrote for the Asia Times.
It was Erdoğan’s “bromance” with outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that allowed Turkey to purchase Russia’s S-400 missile-defence system in defiance of NATO while avoiding any penalties, Taşpınar said. However, “Joe Biden will make sure Erdogan understands there’s a new sheriff in town” in the new era, he wrote.
Trump has held off sanctioning Ankara for the purchase under the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, but the final version of the annual defence policy bill unveiled last week mandates the U.S. president sanction Turkey over the acquisition of the S-400 system.
Moreover, Biden foreign-policy team will be composed of veterans, such as Antony Blinken and Jake Sullivan, set to become secretary of state and national security adviser, respectively, who have experience in dealing with Turkey directly during the administration of Barack Obama, according to Taşpınar.
There will be major pressure for economic and military sanctions on Ankara even before Biden’s inauguration, set to take place on Jan, 20, Taşpınar said, noting however that the incoming U.S. president may opt for a “conditional reset” in relations with Erdoğan, as a last effort to salvage the NATO partnership.
If the Turkish president chooses to cooperate with Biden’s administration and takes on a more constructive policy in Syria, the article said, Biden could even offer Ankara “financial and, potentially, technical incentives’’ for the purchase of U.S. Patriot missile-defence system.
The Turkish government took delivery of Russian S-400 missiles in 2019 despite U.S. threats of sanctions, saying that a deal for buying the Patriots had failed to match a Russian offer on technology acquisition and joint production.
The ball is in Erdoğan’s court, the analyst wrote, as he will have to make a choice between Washington and Moscow, while pointing out that the window for cooperation “is fast closing.”