Turkey joins Saudis in showing displeasure over US policy on Syria

Ankara chooses Chinese firm over US, European firms to co-produce long-range air, missiles defense systems.

Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
There is an international failure in dealing with the Syrian crisis, Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said on Thursday.
Also on Thursday, US Ambassador to Ankara Francis Ricciardone said Washington had begun “expert” talks with Turkey to assess the impact of its plans to co-produce the long-range air and missile defense system with a Chinese firm under US sanctions.
“We are seriously concerned about what this means for allied missile and air defenses for us and for Turkey,” Ricciardone said.
Turkey, a member of the NATO military alliance, said in September it had chosen the FD-2000 missile defense system from China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp, or CPMIEC, over rival systems from Russian, US and European firms.
This comes after a recent report that Turkish intelligence head Hakan Fidan had disclosed sensitive Israeli and American information to Iran.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has cooled relations with Jerusalem and the recent Chinese deal and intelligence leak to Tehran may mean the US may be reassessing its relations with Ankara, despite the fact that President Barack Obama has said he has a close relationship with the Turkish leader.
Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The Jerusalem Post that “Turkey has an overall and long-term strategy of building a native defense industry.”
Turkey has for years wanted co-production and transfer of weapons technology – to build them itself and to be given the technology – but the West has refused and China agreed to co-production.
“Washington has in general been lukewarm to this idea. Accordingly, Turkey tries to increase its bargaining power by flirting with the idea of finding alternative arms providers,” Cagaptay said.
“Ankara, which has been pursuing a policy of regime change in Damascus, feels abandoned by the US in that regard,” asserted Cagaptay.
“The Turks are signaling that they are unhappy with the US policy in Syria, by flirting with the idea of building military ties with other powers,” he said.
The increased strain in Turkey’s relations with the US comes at the same time that Saudi Arabia is showing its displeasure with America’s Middle East policy, with leaks being published in the press describing the Saudi leadership’s frustrations with US policy.
Reuters contributed to this report.