A day before Veteran’s Day 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser appeared on the CBS news show “Face the Nation” to express acrimony.
Robert O’ Brien was interviewed by CBS journalist Margaret Brennan about U.S. military actions in Syria and other critical issues unfolding in the region. O’Brien expressed his administration’s utter dismay after Turkey, a U.S. ally and NATO member, purchased a Russian-made air defense system earlier this year.
The U.S. had also made arrangements to supply Turkey with a 100-piece fleet of F-35 fighter jets earlier this year as well. Ominously, the Russian made S-400 air defense system weapons are powerful enough to bring down a F-35. Before the purchase, Turkish President Recep Erdogan (pictured left) kept it all business when asked about U.S. outrage.
“We have finalized the S-400 agreement and continue contract payments. We suggested purchasing the Patriot [systems] from the US, but the United States failed to offer us any suitable terms. So the S-400 deal is being carried out, and we expect the systems to be supplied in July ,” Erdogan told his nation’s Haberturk TV station.
The U.S. is obviously still reeling in pain over Turkey’s Russian arms deal for some troubling reasons. The Air Force Times published a report this past spring, which laid out the technological edge that U.S. F-35 fighter jets could lose because of what the S-400 systems could technologically intercept as well.
O’Brien said his government is still troubled over Turkey’s possession of the formidable Russian air defense system. The S-400 is about a half-billion dollars cheaper than its U.S. contemporary and still does the job. Trump and Erdogan are scheduled to meet at the White House later this week where the U.S. president will hash out demands.
In his November 10 CBS interview, Trump’s national security adviser gave a preamble to what his boss will be talking to President Erdogan about on Wednesday (November 13).
“If Turkey doesn’t get rid of the S-400, I mean, there will likely be sanctions. The CAATSA sanctions will pass Congress with an overwhelming bipartisan majority and Turkey will feel the impact of those sanctions. We’ve made that very clear to President Erdoğan. There’s no place in NATO for the S-400,” O’Brien said.
“There’s no place in NATO for significant Russian military purchases,” he continued.
Trump’s midweek talks with Erdogan scheduled at the White House this week will amount to political theater and pompous posturing. The damage from Turkey’s duplicity in arms trading against NATO has already been done. On the other hand, the U.S. has expressed its desire to help Turkey maintain its NATO membership at all costs.
U.S. reluctance to take a hard line against Turkey for its S-400 purchase may possibly stem from what has been called and ill-perceived Kurdish betrayal in northern Syria last month.
The mass withdrawal of U.S. troops from their was viewed by leaders in Washington (even Republicans) as an abandonment of the ethnic Kurds, whose militias along the Syrian-Turkish border fought fiercely against ISIS. The subsequent Turkish aggression, which primarily targets the non-Arab Kurds in northeast Syria is getting worse.
Russia has also offered to help the Syrian regime make room for a lethal new ally in the Kurdish militias. The Syrian regime will take all the help it can get in its fight against a slew of enemies.
Turkey (while continuing to buy Russian weapons), ISIS remnants looking to rebuild, the U.S. petro squeeze in Syria’s southern oilfields, and the Washington-backed rebel groups sent to overthrow the Syrian president are all looking to cash in if Syria becomes a failed state.
However, under the welcoming bosom of Russia and neighboring Iran’s sponsorship, Syria’s government still stands; for now.