The United States said on Wednesday that it was removing Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program, a move long threatened and expected after Ankara began accepting delivery of an advanced Russian missile defense system last week. Turkey makes more than 900 parts of the F-35, the supply chain would transition from Turkish to mainly U.S. factories as Turkish suppliers are removed.
Turkey says it received the first major deliveries of a Russian missile-defense system whose purchase has drawn the threat of U.S. sanctions over its potential to undermine NATO’s military capabilities. The U.S. says the Russian air defense system is designed to shoot down NATO aircraft and can collect critical intelligence that could compromise stealth capabilities of the fifth-generation fighter.
Turkey’s main opposition claimed a decisive victory on Sunday in Istanbul’s re-run election, dealing one of the biggest blows to President Tayyip Erdogan during his 16 years in power and promising a new beginning in the country’s largest city. The election was Istanbul’s second in three months after results of an initial March vote were scrapped, setting up the do-over as a test of Turks’ ability to check what many saw as their president’s increasingly authoritarian power.
Turkey ordered a re-run of mayoral elections in Istanbul, overturning a rare defeat for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and sending the lira plummeting as concerns grew over what critics say is the latest assault on the rule of law. Erdogan’s party had lost the initial election in Turkey’s largest city and commercial center by a narrow margin to Turkey’s main opposition group, in perhaps his worst ballot-box setback during 16 years in power. European Union foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini urged Turkey’s government to invite international observers to monitor the revote.
US Vice President Mike Pence warned Turkey on Wednesday that it could risk its membership in NATO if it goes ahead with plans to buy a Russian air defence system despite widespread international opposition. Pence’s escalating rhetoric came after Turkey insisted on Wednesday that the Russian deal was done, signalling an apparent impasse between the two NATO allies. Turkey’s Vice President Fuad Oktay replied on Twitter saying that “The United States must choose” about whether to remain allied with Ankara. He raised the contentious relationship of US support for Kurdish forces in Syria, accusing Washington of “joining forces with terrorists”.
Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan suffered stunning setbacks in local elections as his ruling AK Party lost control of the capital Ankara for the first time since the party’s founding in 2001, and was on course to lose the biggest prize of all, Istanbul. Turkish broadcasters said opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Mansur Yavas had won a clear victory in Ankara. In Istanbul, the CHP was nearly 28,000 votes ahead as the last votes were being counted.
President Trump has warned Turkey of economic devastation if it attacks Kurdish forces in the wake of the US troop pullout from Syria, while also urging the Kurds not to “provoke” Ankara. “Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds,” Trump tweeted, while pushing for the creation of a 20-mile ‘safe zone’. He then added: “Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey.”
Despite a high-profile visit by U.S. officials to Turkey this week, the two nations remain at odds over the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, specifically the implications for America’s Kurdish allies in Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rebuffed National Security Adviser John Bolton on Tuesday, refusing a meeting and expressing frustration in the messaging from Bolton and others that Erdogan says differs from what he said was a deal with Trump, signaling he’d prefer to communicate with the president instead.
President Trump announced the imposition of ‘large sanctions’ on Turkey on Thursday following the detainment of an American pastor accused of aiding a failed coup attempt in 2016. Trump officially spoke about Andrew Brunson’s release with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in June. A Turkish court ordered Brunson to house arrest while his trial continues.
The primary challenger to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Muharrem Ince, conceded defeat on Monday, but warned of a ‘one-man regime.’ International election observers said Turkey’s election gave the opposition ‘no equal opportunities’ but did not find evidence of widespread rigging. Britain and other Western governments accepted Erdogan’s win and vowed continued cooperation with Turkey.