Will Obama call Erdoğan on Chinese missiles?
Will Obama call Erdoğan on Chinese missiles? The bigger question is will NATO agree to plug its missile defense system into Turkey’s which is to be produced (if it will be produced) by Chinese CPMIEC under U.S. sanctions because of its trade with Iran, North Korea and Syria?
This is not a hypothetical question following a decision by NATO member Turkey’s Defense Industry Executive Committee (SSIK) chaired by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan on Sept. 26 to give a $3 billion long-range air and defense missile system (originally estimated at $4 bln) to FD-2000 system of the state-run Chinese company. The other competitors in the tender were Russian Rosoboronexport’s S-400, French-Italian Eurosam consortium’s Aster 30 and American Raytheon’s Patriot system. There are already three Patriot batteries in Turkey sent by NATO as a protective measure against the spillover of the civil war in Turkey’s neighbor Syria. Turkey also opens its İncirlik air base, one of the biggest in its region for NATO and U.S. flights and agreed to host a NATO-operated U.S. early warning radar system for the Global Missile Defense System.
The decision was not something predictable for Turkey having such integrated ties with NATO and especially when the U.S., Turkey’s major defense ally, is in a growing rivalry with China in the Pacific region. The choice of China is likely to stir some debate not only in the U.S. administration but within the NATO and European Union system as well.
According to press reports, joint production, technology transfer and budget criteria led Erdoğan and the committee to make such a decision. To look for a highly calculated political motivation behind the move, such as Erdoğan’s general disappointment with the “West” and throwing a flower to the “East,” to the Shanghai Five for example, since China, in the footsteps of Russia has been the main stumbling block on Turkey’s Syria policy.
Yet Erdoğan’s move could be considered as a political one since it drew considerable political and military attention to Turkey when the United Nations General Assembly focused on finding a solution to the Syrian crisis.
Erdoğan is not happy at all with the support he got (or more correctly failed to get) from Turkey’s Western allies, from the U.S. in particular, for his regional policy; it’s not only Syria, but Egypt, Israel and Palestine, too. He is disappointed with the UN decision-making mechanism; he asks permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (U.S., Russia, China, UK, France) to strip themselves of their veto power and suggests a vote-based system like national parliaments. Erdoğan was also disappointed when U.S. President Barack Obama, his main personal ally in the in the international system, did not consult him enough before talking to Russian President Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg for the last (and ongoing) round of efforts to find a viable solution on Syria. Erdoğan had announced that he was hoping to have an exclusive meeting with Obama the next day which did not take place and after Erdoğan’s moving to Argentina for Turkey’s failed bid for Istanbul for the 2020 Olympic Games. When Turkish President Abdullah Gül sat around the same table with Obama during the official lunch for the U.N. General Assembly in New York and actually talked to him on Syria, some Turkish papers, especially the pro-government ones, tended not to cover the story as an important one. There is a certain anxiety in Ankara as Erdoğan moves toward critical decisions on a number of issues from the Kurdish problem to a more advantageous election system as 2014 approaches during which local elections and presidential elections will take place.
Coming back to the question in the title: Will Obama call Erdoğan for Chinese missiles? And what are they going to discuss besides the China choice and what will happen after that? Questions worth following up the answers of.