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Turkey Mulls Buying Missiles from China, Snubbing NATO


While the decision has not been made yet, Turkey has said that it is likely to buy a new missile defense program from a Chinese firm, unnerving NATO and American diplomats. A Reuters report from earlier this month said that Turkey is “highly likely” to buy the $3.4 billion program, from a firm under American sanctions, no less.

At first glance, it’s perhaps unsurprising that American disapproval couldn’t deter Turkey from taking the deal. As the New York Times‘s Andrew Finkel reported, competing bids were at least $1 billion more expensive. Also, he writes, “the Chinese take a more liberal attitude about transferring technology — they will, for example, allow Turkish co-production of the weapons. The Chinese sweetened the deal by promising to build a new technology park close to an Istanbul airport.”

But a better deal does not explain the growing chasm between Turkey and its Western allies. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan was the loudest in his calls for an armed intervention in Syria. After Obama dithered and Putin took over diplomatic efforts, Erdogan felt rebuffed. Likewise when the US declined to support Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi after his ouster, leaving Turkey alone on that front. With relations with the EU still going nowhere despite the reopening of talks, and relations with Israel still frosty, this move may be Turkey’s attempt to find new friends, or to warn its old ones.

[Recep Tayyip Erdogan photo courtesy of Getty Images]

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  • Pete

    Throw the Turks out of NATO.

    They’re far more trouble than they’ve ever been worth.

    • rheddles

      Good listening posts.

    • Corlyss

      That’s my first instinct too, but I think having them in is more important for now than kicking them out. LBJ’s ol’ tent analogy, if you get me drift. NATO still has some purchase with Turkey. If they were in the EU, which I never expect to happen, they would be the gateway drug for militant Islam, even more than the Balkans are now.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Erdogan wants to be dictator, so every action he takes is designed to forward that goal. Erdogan is undoubtedly getting a Huge Bribe in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and getting some separation from the Democracy supporting NATO. He wants out of NATO, and his talks with the EU are just to silence internal critics, and will go nowhere. The Chinese of course don’t care what happens, as long as they can weaken the US. Protecting their Intellectual Property is unimportant as they stole it in the first place, and does it even work?

  • Corlyss

    “they will, for example, allow Turkish co-production of the weapons.”

    Duh. How do you think the Chinese have been able to secure their oil flow? Back in 1991, when they saw their brand new weapons systems purchased from Russia lying in smoking ruin along Saddam’s Highway of Death out of Kuwait, the Chinese have been diligently propagating nuclear technology throughout the middle east via their puppet state, North Korea.
    Of course they don’t care since they stole it from someone else and they have identified their strategic interest in hedging about the Americans in the middle east with nuclear armed religious fanatics.

    • tarentius

      If that indeed is the Chinese strategy in the Middle East, and I don’t necessarily agree, then emerging American energy independence because of fracking has changed the game. China now needs to secure their access to the Middle East’s oil and secure their trade routes. The Middle East is no longer of vital strategic interest to the US.

      • Corlyss

        The region will always be of vital strategic interest to the US because it is inherently unstable and instability=war, if not now, or next week, within the next 20 years. We may not need it any more for our energy security, but it will remain crucial to our allies for theirs for years to come while we eviscerate and eventually destroy the green obsession.

      • Corlyss

        You don’t have to take my word for the relationship between the Chinese and the Middle East. Check out Batchelor’s analysis here:
        starting about minute 45.

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