Washington and Ankara could be on the verge of finding some common ground following months of tension tied to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s decision to move ahead with the purchase of Russian-made missile systems.
That extremely brazen decision came despite repeated sanctions threats from the US and the promise of expulsion from the Pentagon’s F-35 program.
And yet, Erdogan being Erdogan, the S-400s were delivered, to incredulity from the international community.
It helped that Donald Trump appeared to suggest, at the Osaka G-20, that the White House wasn’t inclined to go ahead with any kind of punitive measures that risked crippling the already beleaguered Turkish economy.
Fast forward roughly three months, and US envoy David Satterfield has reportedly made a new offer to Turkey.
According to local broadcaster NTV, the US on Friday said it would be willing to present Ankara with a trade package including Patriot missile systems and a reduction of steel and aluminum tariffs. Turkey would also get the F-35s, according to the unsourced reports, which were echoed by Haberturk, apparently.
If this is any semblance of true, it would mean Erdogan got away with an egregious affront to NATO in the S-400 purchases, although one certainly imagines any deal that includes Patriots and the advanced fighter jets would come with a stipulation that the Russian systems cannot be activated. Erdogan has insisted from the beginning of the spat that one way or another, he’d get both the S-400s and the F-35s, despite that being a logistical non-starter for security reasons.
Tuesday’s rumors also included a nod to a new economic pact with the US that would ramp trade between the two countries up to $100 billion.
Turkish stocks and the lira rose on the unverified reports.
Trump and Erdogan may meet at the UN. One imagines Syria “might” come up.