On Sunday, Turkey may turn off the S-400 and return to F-35s
Turkey is about to elect a new or old-new president of the country. The country’s presidential election this Sunday [May 14] could shape a radically different policy for Turkey in the coming years.
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Recep Tayyip Erdogan will try again to win the trust of his countrymen. Kemal Kulçdaroğlu is Erdogan’s opponent and a candidate for the new president of Turkey. According to preliminary data from various statistical agencies monitoring the attitudes of the Turkish population, Kulçdaroğlu has a small lead over Erdogan.
The US will be watching Sunday’s election with interest. Erdogan is currently not so well-liked by Washington. The great gap between Ankara and Washington opened when Ankara announced its intention to buy the Russian S-400 air defense system four years ago. The decision came after the Turkish presidency announced the excessively high price and “extortionate offer” regarding the Patriot.
After Ankara refused to heed threats from Washington, the White House decided to kick Turkey out of the F-35 program. However, Kulacdaroglu has other intentions. His latest statements lead us to renewed relations with Washington. He promised his party would work to acquire new F-16s in a $20 billion deal. Last but not least, Kulçdaroğlu wants the F-35s to fly over Turkish skies. In simple words, this means excluding the operational capability of the Russian S-400.
Good relationships and horizons. These are the ideas of Kulacdaroglu regarding Washington. Such an opinion was also expressed by Kulçdaroğlu’s adviser on foreign political affairs, who was immediately quoted by Newsweek.
Kulçdaroğlu’s staff admits, however, that returning to the negotiating table on the F-35 will be a difficult task. But sources in Turkey have commented that perhaps the first step will be to bring the Turkish industry back into the F-35 program. Talks about the F-35 with Washington will be much easier if the Turkish industry continues to produce parts for the American fighter.
I have a lot of logic in the claim that Turkey insists on getting back into the program first without immediately asking for fighter jets. The F-35 is a fifth-generation fighter, but it paves the way for the next generation of fighters. These are completely new technologies that Turkey does not want to be deprived of.
The possible new president Kulçdaroğlu will like Beliyadom and especially Biden, claims Indian journalist Iftikhar Gilani. According to him, the new Turkish government will be more favorable to the US, which could appease the White House and bring the Turks back into the program.
In fact, Washington has never categorically claimed that there is no more room for Turkey in the F-35 program. One of the first conditions for Turkey to return was the exclusion of the Russian S-400 system from Turkey’s air defenses. However, the candidate for the new president is silent on the subject of whether he would agree to such an action to sit down again to negotiate with the Americans.
According to analysts of the situation, Turkey and the US can reach some kind of agreement. The S-400 has already been activated and introduced into the country’s air defense structure. However, Turkey may take a step back. I.e. Ankara to retain the systems but never use them in concerted operations with its Western partners. However, it is not clear whether exactly such a move will appease Washington.
At the same time, local analysts say not to attribute a loss to Erdogan, despite his opponent’s lead. The current Turkish president has the entire state machine to harness in the upcoming election this Sunday. As an example, some give the television appearances – 24 minutes of air time on Kulçdaroğlu’s state televisions against 21 hours for Erdogan.
The salary increase in the last few months for civil servants and the reduction of some prices is a pure campaign move by Erdogan. The state administration still employs many voters who were employed during Erdoğan’s administration, i.e. from Erdogan’s party.
Nothing is clear yet, but he will decide soon. Will Turkey continue to be led by Erdogan, who despite his Western partners strengthened some ties that should not have [Russia and Iran, Syria too], or simply the country will be led by a man ready to turn off the S-400 to fly first way F-35 over Turkey, remains to be seen!
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