Turkey threatens to retaliate if US halts weapon sales

Mevlut Cavusoglu

Turkey will retaliate if the United States passes a proposed law that would halt weapons sales to the country, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced on Sunday.

Lawmakers in the US House of Representatives released details on Friday of a $717 billion annual defense policy bill, including measures to temporarily halt weapons sales to Turkey.

In an interview with broadcaster CNN Turk, Cavusoglu said the measures in the bill were wrong, illogical and not fitting between the NATO allies.

“If the United States imposes sanctions on us or takes such a step, Turkey will absolutely retaliate,” Cavusoglu said. “What needs to be done is the US needs to let go of this.”

The proposed US National Defense Authorization Act, which is several steps from becoming law, would ask the Defense Department to provide Congress with a report on the relationship between the United States and Turkey, and would block the sale of major defense equipment until the report was complete.

Turkey plans to buy more than 100 of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets, and is also in talks with Washington over the purchase of Patriot missiles.

Turkey signed an agreement with Russia in December to buy S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries as part of Ankara’s plans to boost its defense capabilities amid threats from Kurdish and Islamist militants at home and conflicts across its borders in Syria and Iraq.

The move to buy S-400s, which are incompatible with the NATO systems, has unnerved NATO member countries, which are already wary of Moscow’s military presence in the Middle East, prompting NATO officials to warn Turkey of unspecified consequences.

Cavusoglu dismissed the warnings, saying Turkey’s relations and agreements with Russia were not an alternative to its ties with the West and accused the United States of trying to control Turkey’s actions.

“Turkey is not a country under your orders, it is an independent country…Speaking to such a country from above, dictating what it can and cannot buy, is not a correct approach and does not fit our alliance,” he said.

Erdogan elections

Meanwhile on Sunday, speaking before thousands of supporters in Istanbul, Turkey’s President Erdogan described next month’s snap presidential and parliamentary polls as a “milestone” for a strong Turkey. The country would “take the stage as a global power,” he vowed.

Erdogan called elections more than a year earlier than planned for June 24 – a move analysts say partly aims to capitalize on nationalist sentiment running high following a successful campaign that ousted Syrian Kurdish militia from the Syrian border enclave of Afrin.

GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.