Turkey and Russia to go ahead with arms deal

Russian S-400 Triumph medium-range and long-range surface-to-air missile systems ride through Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow on May 9. (AFP)
Updated 14 September 2017

Turkey and Russia to go ahead with arms deal

ANKARA: Russia said it is preparing to ship its S-400 anti-ballistic missile system to Turkey despite opposition from the latter’s key NATO allies.
As Turkey boasts the second-largest army in the alliance after the US, the purchase of Russian-made, high-tech defense equipment has sparked intense debate about its interoperability with NATO radars.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said his country had already paid a deposit to Russia for the S-400s.
“If we’re having issues in acquiring certain defense instruments and our attempts are met with obstacles, we’ll take care of ourselves,” he said, alluding to difficulties Turkey has faced in purchasing armed drones from allied countries.
Technical experts say it is necessary to create an interface program to ensure the compatibility and interoperability of the S-400 system with NATO’s missile defense.
“But there’s a need for political consensus on this between the parties, which isn’t likely at all,” Prof. Mustafa Kibaroglu, director of the Center for International Security Studies and Strategic Research at MEF University in Istanbul, told Arab News.
“Acquiring air defense systems is likely to increase Turkey’s deterrent capability, which in turn might enhance its self-confidence and help bring more stability to its relations with other countries in the region.”
Underlining that Turkey, despite being a NATO member, is not obligated to buy military equipment from a particular group of countries, Kibaroglu said Russia is a legitimate supplier for air defense systems.
“In an age of worsening relations between the West and Russia, the recent bid has caused grave concerns” among NATO members, he added.
The S-400 deal alone is unlikely to make Turkey and Russia strategic partners overnight, and does not suggest a major deviation from Ankara’s foreign and security policies, Kibaroglu said.
“Existing differences, and ad hoc cooperation between Turkey and Russia in handling terrorism threats emanating from Iraq and Syria, won’t be dramatically affected by the deal, at least in the foreseeable future,” he added.
Can Kasapoglu, a defense analyst at the Istanbul-based Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies, said interoperability between the S-400 and NATO’s integrated ballistic missile defense architecture is not possible.
“This doesn’t arise merely from technical difficulties, but from greater political-military concerns,” he told Arab News.
“Anyone who monitored NATO’s Wales and Warsaw summits could have detected the extremely negative mood regarding Russia, especially after Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.”
Kasapoglu said while Turkey does not plan to drift away from NATO’s systems, diversification of its military cooperation portfolio and procurement makes it resilient in the face of diplomatic fluctuations. But he highlighted two drawbacks regarding the S-400 deal.
“First, Turkey’s defense budget might be overstretched by running two defensive strategic weapons agendas, one for the Russian SAM and the other for a NATO-friendly system with EUROSAM,” Kasapoglu said.
“Second, any further strains in the strategic balance between NATO and Russia would put Turkey’s S-400 deal under the spotlight. Furthermore, an undeclared war has been going on in the eastern part of Ukraine, and there’s no way Turkey’s Foreign Ministry could recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea.”
Elli Kytomaki, an arms control expert and analyst at SaferGlobe, a Finnish think-tank, told Arab News that the purchase of the S-400 “would make Turkey the first NATO member to use the system within the alliance.”
He said: “The US has already raised concerns over the purchase, but it doesn’t seem to be a deal-breaker or a cause for sanctions by NATO or Turkey’s other Western allies, such as the EU.”
Kytomaki added that Turkey wants to frame a more independent foreign policy and gain more knowhow in missile technology.
“The Russian system is also said to be cheaper than the alternatives that were on the table when the purchase was first being considered,” she said.
In light of tensions in Turkey’s security partnership with the US, experts said the S-400 deal could spark further disagreement between Ankara and Washington.
“But even if Turkey were to reconsider its decision” to procure the S-400, “I don’t think it would make the Pentagon withdraw its support” for the Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Kasapoglu said.
“Nevertheless, many of Turkey’s competitors would use the S-400 issue to claim that Ankara is shifting from its traditional alliance to a more pro-Russia position. This propaganda could affect the US stance vis-a-vis Turkey when discussing the PYD issue.”

Council of Arab Interior Ministers calls for cooperation to alleviate suffering of terrorism victims

Updated 23 April 2019

Council of Arab Interior Ministers calls for cooperation to alleviate suffering of terrorism victims

  • Mohammed bin Ali Koman says the situation requires the cooperation of all to alleviate the suffering of the victims and their families
  • He was commemorating Arab Day to raise awareness of the pain of victims of terrorist acts

TUNIS: Not only does the harm caused by terrorist crimes affect innocent victims, it also leaves their families and communities with psychological and social pain, the Secretary-General of the Council of Arab Ministers of the Interior has said.

This situation requires the cooperation of all to alleviate the suffering of the victims and their families and help them overcome their predicament, Dr. Mohammed bin Ali Koman said.

Koman was commemorating Arab Day to raise awareness of the pain of victims of terrorist acts, held every year on April 22 by the General Secretariat of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers, member states and the League of Arab States.

“Today is an opportunity to raise awareness of the pain and tragedies of victims of terrorist attacks and encourage all initiatives undertaken by official bodies and civil society organizations to alleviate their suffering,” he said.

“The effects of terrorist crimes have exceeded aggression against human lives and property to psychological and social impacts as well as affecting families,” he said.

“Terrorist crimes result in a continuous bleeding to the heart of affected communities, especially with the terrorist media being devoted to inspiring and promoting their criminal operations, which have affected thousands of victims, including children, women and the elderly.”

He hailed the efforts of the security services in their fight against terrorism and the great improvement in reducing its crimes in recent years, expressing his sympathies for the victims and his support for their families to overcome the aftermath of these crimes.

Koman stressed that the Council of Arab Interior Ministers has taken special measures to raise awareness about the pain of victims of terrorist acts, including the development of media programs to raise security awareness and improve citizens’ contribution to countering terrorist acts in implementation of the Arab counter-terrorism strategy. This was in addition to assigning the Arab bureau for security-related information activities, which operates under the General Secretariat of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers, to prepare media programs and materials to raise awareness about the dangers of terrorist acts and the suffering they cause.

He highlighted that the council’s efforts go beyond raising awareness to taking concrete measures to support the victims of terrorist acts, including members of the Arab security services and their families.

Koman said that these efforts include the establishment of an Arab security solidarity fund to cover the expenses of medical, social, and psychological support for Arab police and security personnel and their families, in addition to the development of a model for the organizational structure of a department in the security services specializing in psychological counseling.

“The department will be operated by social workers and psychologists who have the capacity to help victims overcome the pain and tragedy of terrorism,” he said.

Koman praised the efforts of Arab countries in assisting the victims of terrorist acts and alleviating their suffering, including providing financial and moral support and providing them with treatment and privileges, such as monthly wages, scholarships for their families and medals of honors to their martyrs.

He urged public and civil society institutions to develop awareness-raising efforts through holding seminars and organizing events to remember the suffering of the victims and provide them with social, psychological and financial support.

Koman concluded by saying a prayer for the victims harmed by terrorist acts and members of the security services who died foiling terrorist crimes and fighting terrorists.