With NATO or without NATO?

A visiting journalist asked (U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu without even bothering to introduce herself) in a condescending tone, “Did you warn Turkey that they could be subject to sanctions under CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) legislation if they go ahead with the purchase of the S-400 [missile defense] system? And for you, Mr. foreign minister, would the threat of U.S. sanctions stop you from going ahead with the purchase of the S-400 system? And if you do buy the system, do you still want to remain in NATO if you’re obtaining the weapons from Russia?”

She, of course received an answer she so rightly deserved. The translator had Foreign Affairs Minister Çavuşoğlu saying, “First and foremost, I need to underline that I am against the terminology that you use. You used the threat terminology. That is not the correct terminology because it is true for all countries and states. We never use the language of threat and we deny if it is used against us, because this is not correct.”

Translators always seem to mix things up! The minister did not say, “You used the threat terminology,” he said, “You used the word ‘threat.’ He did not say, “That is not the correct terminology,” he simply said, “This is not the correct word.”

Why is that important? The minister’s tone and choice of words was in fact a response to the recent prophesizing coming from the neocons and their ilk in the U.S. media after the Turkish-Russo agreement of the S400 anti-aircraft weapon system sale: Turkey should be kicked out of the NATO alliance.

There are two distinct countries on the face of the earth that think their domestic laws are applicable to foreign governments, foreign individuals and companies.

Despite the offensive language she used, this U.S. reporter, who was traveling with Tillerson, put the subject into a nice perspective: the U.S. Congress passed a law on Aug. 2, 2017, CAATSA, which among other things imposes new sanctions on Iran, Russia, and North Korea. If you buy from or sell to those countries military equipment, weapons or material that could be used for military purposes, the U.S. can punish you. How? They can have you expelled from the NATO. They? That is, the U.S. and their European allies. You see, every European country can buy U.S. anti-aircraft weapon systems except Turkey. Why? Is Turkey not an ally? Yes but… But what? Well, you know it and we know it.

Coincidentally, yesterday was 66th anniversary of Turkey joining NATO.

Those neocons, who are actually still running the show behind the curtains in the diplomatic and military apparatus of the United States, labeled Turkey “as a country of political Islam” and I am afraid that this wrong done against Turkey is going to be on the epitaph of Turkish-NATO relations. Some 66 years ago, Turkey needed the U.S.’s assistance against a (ghost or real) Soviet threat. Now it can manufacture or purchase its defense systems. Where does NATO fit in this picture? All NATO members are equal and there is no security council to veto individual member’s decisions – at least on paper.

If American journalists fail to understand the changing facts of the region, they keep asking Turkish officials how the U.S. embargo threat suits them. Well lady; it doesn’t bode well with the new facts. You may ask Mr. Çavuşoğlu one more time if you ever see him again.

On the other hand, we might ask why and how Israel is the other country imposing its laws on other people? President Trump is going to recognize the right of Israel to extend its law to areas of Judea and Samaria, which are Arab lands simply occupied by force. Can it do this? Yes it can, because Arab people living in Judea and Samaria cannot manufacture nor are able to purchase an anti-aircraft defense system. We could dwell on the subject some other time.

Source: Daily Sabah

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About the author

Hakki Ocal

Hakki Ocal

Hakkı Öcal is a columnist at both Daily Sabah and Milliyet newspapers, which are based in Istanbul. He is also an advisor to the President of Ibn Haldun University.

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