The Sanctions – A Realistic Approach

December 18, 2020

The cautiously targeted, mild U.S. financial sanctions on Turkey indicate strong disapproval. They mark the exhaustion of U.S. patience. But whether or not we think they go far enough, they are still a very important event. An unprecedented event in the historical chronicles of the Western Alliance.

From the time of Truman onwards, Turkey was the cornerstone of American foreign policy and defense in the Eastern Mediterranean, a bulwark against the expansion of the Soviet Union, an ally – albeit covertly – of Israel.

And yet, the U.S.-Turkey relationship deteriorated so much that we have now reached the point of imposing sanctions.

Something the European Union does not even want to hear.

In a recent speech, Erdogan referred to a "realignment" of forces in the region.

In other words, he sees countries like the U.S. retreating, while others, with Turkey in the lead, rising.

In this context, a tough battle is being fought. Erdogan is trying to become independent of the United States – although not entirely, because he continues to need its support, as was the case with the purchase of weapons systems.

And America will try to keep Turkey in its sphere of influence, and within NATO, but under conditions.

However, I'm not at all sure that sanctions this mild – against individuals not particularly high in the hierarchy – will work.

On the contrary, they will give Erdogan the opportunity for more demagogic exploitation.

If the sanctions do not touch him, his immediate circle, and the national security officials, they will have no effect.

They give Putin an opportunity to make a spectacular move to bring Erdogan closer to him.

Let us clarify one thing: the sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Turkey have nothing to do with the violation of Greek and Cypriot sovereignty. Nor with the islamization of Aghia Sophia.

They are related to the purchase and testing of the Russian S-400s missiles – and nothing else.

The sanctions come 35 days before the end of Trump's presidency. They should have been imposed earlier, according to the law.

It will therefore be one of the serious foreign policy issues that Biden will inherit.

He will hardly be able to do less than Trump.

But both Biden and Erdogan will want to try to make "a fresh start" in their relationship.

In this context, the issue of Turkey's aggression against Hellenism should definitely be brought to the table. It must be recognized as a problem, along with the S-400s, that will determine whether or not there can be a normalization of relations between the two countries.



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