Turkey continues to act against NATO interests

21 October 2020

Arie Egozi (Israel)

Turkey continues to provoke the U.S. by acting against NATO interests. According to Turkish media, the country has been testing its Russian-made S-400 air defense system in recent days.

The Turkish television channel A Haber, which is close to the government, said on its website that Turkey’s military test-fired the Russian S-400 in the Black Sea province of Sinop.

The reports was are based on an amateur video, reportedly filmed in Sinop, which allegedly shows a contrail of the air defence missile. The same report was carried by other news outlets in Turkey.

The U.S. State Department said the missile launch is “incompatible with Turkey's responsibilities as a NATO ally and strategic partner” of the United States.

Turkey insists it was forced to purchase the Russian system after Washington refused to sell it the U.S. a Patriot system.

The purchase of the S-400 resulted in the cancellation of the deal to sell the F-35 stealth fighter to Turkey.

Russia delivered the first batch of the Russian defense systems last year. Turkey had initially said the S-400 would be operational in April but it has since delayed activating the system.

The test launch is seen be experts in Israel as a another "big shift" in the Turkish commitment to NATO.

This when background ties between Turkey and Iran are warming up.

In recent months, Turkey has taken a few steps that lead long-standing NATO member countries to question whether it can still be a member of the Alliance. Surprisingly, the organization has not officially reacted, nor has it taken any action to try and stop the process. This further puts a question mark on its real value as an organization that may be called upon for combined military operations.

All signs are showing that Iran has made a strategic decision to accelerate its nuclear program. Israeli experts who talked on condition of anonymity say the West "is blind if it does not see the buildup of relations between Iran and Turkey."

Retired Major-General Yitzahk Ben Israel, former head of the ministry of defense administration for the development of weapons and defense infrastructures, notes that Turkey is continuing to challenge NATO and that Ankara has chosen very clearly to take another direction in its defense policy.

Of the numerous factors that have created doubt over Turkey's role in NATO, the closer ties with Iran is seen by Israeli experts as the "final blow" to the Turkish membership in NATO.

– Arie Egozi is a writer/editor based in Israel