New York.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Although the news on Trump Administration being ready to impose CAATSA sanctions on Turkey’s SSB defense industries has been leaked by Reuters, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Monday announcement was met with surprise, since it is the first time Washington is imposing to an ally, sanctions designed to heart adversaries of the United States.
Of course some analysts say that since Congress has passed with a veto proof majority a provision forcing the President to impose CAATSA sanctions to Turkey within a month from the signing of the law, Monday’s announcement was just a personal favor to Secretary Pompeo’s future presidential aspirations from President Trump.
It is not clear what the effect of this move, focused on the defense sector, including Turkey’s Defense Industries Directorate (SSB), will be on the US-Turkish relations, while Ankara has threaten with reprisals, a move that is likely to further strain Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s relations with Western allies.
Many Washington analysts think that with President Joe Biden legislation that is right now stalled in Congress, questioning Turkish human rights violations and aggression in the area, could be move ahead.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu who spoke on Thursday for the first time after the sanctions, kept low tones.
“Secretary Pompeo made clear to Foreign Minister Cavusoglu that Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 system endangers the security of U.S. personnel and military technology and allows Russian access to the Turkish armed forces and defense industry”, State Department’s Deputy spokesman said.
“The Secretary stressed that the goal of the sanctions is to prevent Russia from receiving substantial revenue, access, and influence, and they are not intended to undermine the military capabilities or combat readiness of Turkey or any other U.S. Ally or partner. Secretary Pompeo also urged Turkey to resolve the S-400 issue in a manner consistent with our decades-long history of defense-sector cooperation and to re-commit itself to its NATO obligations to purchase NATO-interoperable weaponry.”
Earlier a State Department official clarified on Turkish CAATSA sanctions that “current, valid, non-exhausted export authorizations are not affected by this action.
No new export licenses or other authorizations that name SSB as a party will be issued; this includes amendments to previously approved agreements and licenses in furtherance of previously approved agreements.”
THE 5 SANCTIONS
As Assistant Secretary of State Ford said in a conference call with reporters, the U.S. is specifically, we are imposing the following penalties upon SSB:
“First, a prohibition on granting specific U.S. export licenses and authorizations for any goods or technology.
Second, a prohibition on loans or credits by U.S. financial institutions totaling more than $10 million in any 12-month period.
Third, a ban on U.S. Export-Import Bank assistance for exports.
And fourth, a requirement for the U.S. to oppose loans by international financial institutions to SSB.
In addition to those penalties on SSB the organization, we are imposing full blocking sanctions and visa restrictions on SSB President Dr. Ismail Demir as well as upon three other SSB officials, specifically Vice President Faruk Yigit, Air Defense and Space Department head Serhat Gencoglu – and I’m sure I’m pronouncing that wrong, my apologies – and Program Manager for Regional Air Defense Systems Mustafa Alper Deniz. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, is adding all four of those men to its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List – known as the SDN list. As a result, all of their property and interests within the United States jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from transacting with them.”
Ankara acquired the Russian S-400 ground-to-air defenses in mid-2019 and says they pose no threat to NATO allies. Washington disagrees and has long threatened sanctions, and last year removed Turkey from an F-35 jet program.
“Turkey is a valued ally and an important regional security partner for the United States, and we seek to continue our decades-long history of productive defense-sector cooperation by removing the obstacle of Turkey’s S-400 possession as soon as possible,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote in a statement announcing the sanctions.
State Department officials downplayed the timing, saying that the process of implementing sanctions was “very serious” and “deliberative.”
“It took time to work through this complex set of issues, including, in particular, the fact that Turkey is a NATO ally, so I would not read too much into the timing of this and why today and not yesterday or three months ago,” said Matthew Palmer, deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, during a call with reporters. “This is the time that was necessary for us to conclude that deliberative process.”
The latest revelation comes less than two months after reports surfaced that Turkey’s military began testing the S-400 system.
Asked to what extent there was coordination between the United States and the E.U., Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Palmer said:
“The sanctions that were under consideration at the recent European Council aren’t related to the S-400; they’re about Turkish activities and behaviors in the Aegean and off the Cypriot coast, exploratory activities and drilling operations.
So we’ve certainly been talking to the European member states and to representatives of the European Union about potential EU sanctions, but we haven’t coordinated this announcement with Europeans. I don’t think they would expect that of us. And neither do we have a vote in whatever sanctions the European Council might eventually choose to pursue.”
PSEKA welcomes and applauds the imposition of sanctions against Turkey pursuant to Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
Turkey, the so-called “reliable ally” member of NATO, has been acting as an adversary for many years. In 1974 Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus with the illegal use of American arms and equipment in violation of the US Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.
Based on the Rule of Law, an embargo followed but Turkey still occupies 37% of the Island depriving the Human Rights of 200,000 Greek Cypriots from returning to their ancestral homes! Turkey continues to destabilize the Eastern Mediterranean region, violating on a daily basis, the exclusive economic zone of our allies Greece and Cyprus.
We welcome the Trump Administration’s decision to impose the long overdue sanctions and call on President-Elect Biden to make sure that Turkey adheres to the Rule of Law.
If our Government had used the legal authority of such sanctions and made clear to Turkey that irresponsible actions whether in Cyprus, Syria, Libya, Armenia or the East-Med region have consequences, we would not be facing the threat of war between NATO allies.
AHEPA Commends the
United States’ Decision
AHEPA commends the United States’ decision today to impose sanctions on Turkey for its procurement of the Russian S-400 missile defense system, announced Supreme President George G. Horiates.
“Turkey has demonstrated it is an unreliable and dubious NATO ally,” Horiates said. “We commend the United States for holding Turkey accountable under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act for its purchase of the S-400s, which is a clear threat to the United States’ national security. Although overdue, this policy measure by the Trump administration, with bipartisan pressure from Congress, sends a strong and pointed message to Turkey. It is a victory for accountability and the community, and we applaud all groups and individuals for their advocacy.”
In November 2019, Supreme President Horiates wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to request the secretary, under authority designated to him by Executive Order, to impose sanctions on Turkish entities pursuant to Section 231 of CAATSA based upon press accounts that reported Turkey tested the S-400 missile defense system against F-16 aircraft.
Horiates’ November 2019 letter followed-up on his October 2019 letter to Secretary Pompeo that inquired about the status of the United States sanctioning Turkey under CAATSA.
Also in November 2019, Supreme President Horiates met with key policymakers in foreign policy on Capitol Hill, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch (R-ID) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY), among others, to work to hold Turkey accountable for its actions.
In July 2020, AHEPA asked the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to press Secretary Pompeo on the issue during a committee hearing, which Ranking Member Robert Menendez (D-NJ) correctly did. (watch video)
During the summer, Supreme President Horiates again wrote to Secretary Pompeo, stating the U.S. must impose sanctions on Turkey, which received a response from the State Department.
Ahepans mobilized following a September 2020 memo Supreme President Horiates sent a memo and provided a mobilization tool kit to chapters that included talking points on the policy matter. AHEPA also placed an advocacy ad in several Greek American publications.
The Trump administration announcement comes as Congress imposed mandatory sanctions on Turkey for its violation of CAATSA with its passage of the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which AHEPA applauded.
AHEPA supported the bipartisan measures to sanction Turkey that legislators included in the defense bill during the amendment process over the summer.
ANCA, HALC, IDC
WELCOME INITIAL US
SANCTIONS ON TURKEY
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) and In Defense of Christians (IDC) hailed the Trump Administration’s imposition of sanctions on Turkey’s military procurement agency and its officers in response to Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile systems.
The U.S. sanctions include a ban on all U.S. export licenses and loans to Turkey’s defense procurement agency. They also freeze the assets and restrict visas of the organization’s president and three other senior officials. and an asset freeze on its president, Ismail Demir, among other government officials.
Over the last two Congresses, ANCA, HALC and IDC have prioritized holding Turkey accountable for its violations of US and international law and its destabilizing behavior in multiple regions. The joint advocacy efforts included in person lobbying, social media campaigns, an advertisement in the New York Times, and call-in/email campaigns to members of Congress and the Trump Administration.
According to Toufic Baaklini, President and Chairman of IDC, “While we have much more work to do, today’s announcement is a welcomed U.S. response to an increasingly rogue Ankara. We look forward to continuing to ramp up the pressure in 2021”
“We join today with our HALC and IDC partners in welcoming this first step to hold Turkey accountable for its reckless conduct,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We look forward to working with our advocacy allies during the next Congress and with the incoming Biden Administration to build upon today’s actions,” added Hamparian.
“US policy on Turkey has finally shifted from appeasement to accountability,” said HALC Executive Director Endy Zemenides. “These sanctions are a positive first step and a clear signal to Ankara that it is not above the law. Yet they remain a first step. Sanctions are not the end game. Ending Turkey’s rogue state like behavior is. We remain committed to work with our partners at ANCA and IDC to ask the next Congress and the incoming Biden Administration to build on today’s development,” concluded Zemenides.
Engel and McCaul Statement
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel and Lead Republican Michael McCaul have released the following statement on their deep concern over Turkey’s actions under President Erdogan that endanger the NATO alliance, the broader region, and democracy and the rule of law in Turkey.
“We are gravely concerned by the threat Turkey’s increasingly provocative behavior poses to our decades-long bilateral relationship, to the NATO alliance, and to the region more broadly. While we continue to see real value in a strong U.S.-Turkey relationship, its destabilizing actions need to be more strongly addressed and the United States must work with its European and NATO allies and partners to continue to use all of the tools at their disposal to demand that Turkey reverse course. We strongly urge President Erdogan to put an end to Turkey’s provocative behavior so the United States and Turkey can once again enjoy a close and cooperative relationship built on mutual security interests, a strong commitment to NATO, and shared democratic values.”
Recent actions of concern by Turkey under President Erdogan include:
President Erdogan’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile defense system compromises NATO interoperability and undermines the alliance’s collective defense pledge, which demands our militaries and armaments can work together in the face of the threat posed by Russia. It also allows Vladimir Putin to continue to sow division in the alliance.
Turkey’s military operation in northeast Syria risked reversing critical gains by the United States and our local partners in the ongoing counter-ISIS fight and exacerbated the existing humanitarian crisis. Even now, Turkish-supported groups in northern Syria are accused of committing egregious human rights violations.
President Erdogan has also fanned the flames of other global conflicts, reportedly sending Syrian mercenaries to Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh.
In the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey has surveyed for hydrocarbon resources in disputed waters also claimed by Greece, a NATO member, and Cyprus, a key transatlantic partner and EU member.
Erdogan has openly hosted Hamas terrorists in Turkey, including individuals designated by the United States for their terrorist activities.
At home, Erdogan’s government has undermined Turkey’s democratic institutions by consolidating his own power, undermining the independence of Turkey’s judiciary, and rolling back the democratic rights and freedoms of the Turkish people, including by targeting locally-employed staff at U.S. Consulates with baseless criminal charges.