Turkey had a pyrrhic victory at NATO - analyst
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted to use Turkey’s veto power over NATO’s expansion to extract concessions from Washington, but failed to reach his objective when Biden administration maintained its assessment that Erdogan was overplaying his hand, said Omer Taspinar, a senior fellow from Brookings Institute, in an article he wrote for Responsible Statecraft.
Taspinar claimed that Erdogan bargained in vain with US President Joe Biden for ending the military embargo that sidelined Ankara from the F-35 stealth fighter jet project but settled instead on a much more modest offer for Ankara: the modernization of the F-16s in Turkey’s aging air force.
"We should sell them the F-16 jets and modernize those jets as well," Biden said at a news conference in Madrid at the end of the NATO summit where Turkey lifted its embargo against Nordic NATO hopefuls. "I need congressional approval to do that and I think I can do that." Biden added.
The US State Department had already informed the US Congress that a potential sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey would further U.S. national security interests and serve NATO’s long-term unity weeks before, Taspinar wrote and added that Erdogan’s quid-pro-quo approach holding NATO’s northern expansion hostage to his more narrow political interests greatly irritated the US Congress.
“Erdogan’s overplayed hand is a lost opportunity because many U.S. lawmakers who are now once again frustrated with him were probably positively surprised with Turkey’s initially constructive approach to Ukraine.” he said.
On Tuesday, a group of lawmakers filed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to block the sale of weapons to Turkey, stressing Turkey’s air space violations in the Aegean.
Ankara also failed to generate too much of a compromise in its bargain with Sweden and Finland, according to Taspinar. While Stockholm made commitments to change its regulations restricting military sales to Turkey, it managed to dilute the issue of terrorism in the language of the memorandum signed with Ankara, he said and added: “At the end of the day, Erdogan will discover that the extradition of Turkish and Kurdish dissidents deemed to be terrorists will remain an elusive quest in Turkish-Swedish relations.”