Turkey may force Americans out of Incirlik base over S-400 sanctions

The US authorities, at part of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), imposed sanctions on the Turkish Defense Industry Administration, its chief Ismail Demir and three other citizens of the Turkish republic - Faruk Yigit, Mustafa Alper Deniz and Serhat Genchoglu. Yigit serves as deputy chairman of the department, while the other two officials chair specialized departments related to air defense.

Earlier, Reuters reported that Washington was going to blacklist Demir and the department that he chairs in connection with Turkey's decision to purchase S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems from Russia. The above-mentioned sanctions have been imposed on five counts stipulated by the CAATSA.

"The United States made clear to Turkey at the highest levels and on numerous occasions that its purchase of the S-400 system would endanger the security of US military technology and personnel and provide substantial funds to Russia's defence sector, as well as Russian access to the Turkish armed forces and defence industry," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. "Today's action sends a clear signal that the United States will fully implement CAATSA Section 231 and will not tolerate significant transactions with Russia's defense and intelligence sectors," Pompeo also said.

In addition to visa restrictions and blocked assets of the above-mentioned turkish officials, the USA has restricted the issuance of US export licenses and permits for the transfer of any goods and technologies to the Turkish defense industry.

  • It is forbidden to provide US financial institutions with loans for this department, the amount of which exceeds $10 million per year.
  • The US Export-Import Bank will not be permitted to provide export assistance for management purposes.
  • In addition, the United States will have to oppose loans given by international financial institutions in the event the Turkish defense industry profits from those loans.

Ismail Demir said that the sanctions will not harm the defense industry of Turkey. Officials with the Turkish Foreign Ministry stressed that Ankara, at its discretion, would take necessary steps against the decision that will inevitably affect the relations between Turkey and the United States.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the new sanctions "another manifestation of arrogant attitude towards international law, a manifestation of illegitimate, unilateral coercive measures."

According to Ahval analytical portal, Turkey may ask the Americans to leave the Incirlik airbase in Adana province in reponse. The US and Turkish Air Forces have been operating the airbase for decades; it still remains an important forward base for Pentagon and NATO operations in Iraq and Syria. It is worthy of note that Turkey traditionally considers the expulsion of the American contingent from Incirlik airbase when clouds gather above Ankara's relations with Washington.

Russia started supplying S-400s air defense systems to Turkey in July 2019. The United States stood up against the deal and demanded Turkey should abandon it in favor of US-made Patriot complexes. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly stated that Ankara was not going to abandon the Russian systems, nor would it ask Washington for permission to test the systems.