Sep 21 2019

U.S. Congress appears poised to take action against Turkey - Kathimerini

The reaction by U.S. Congress to Turkey’s acquisition of Russian S-400 missiles, which, is in some ways, is reminiscent of Washington’s stance during Turkey’s 1974 invasion of Cyprus, points to increasing concerns about Western democracies in the region, wrote Andy Manatos, an assistant secretary of commerce in the Carter administration and former U.S. Senate Committee associate staff director, in Greek newspaper Kathimerini on Friday.

Capitol Hill has not shown the kind of reaction it did to Ankara over the S-400 system since its 1974 invasion of Cyprus, providing a glimpse of what may be coming next from Washington, Manatos said. 

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded the north in response to a Greek Cypriot coup aiming to unite the island with Greece. Since then, the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus has controlled the southern two-thirds of the island, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, only recognised by Turkey, the northern third.

Over concerns that the Russian S-400 missile system could allow Russian subterfuge on F-35 stealth fighters, U.S. President Donald Trump halted the delivery of 100 F-35s Turkey purchased from the United States, while the Pentagon suspended Turkey’s participation in the F-35 programme, dealing a huge blow for Turkey’s defence sector.

There is bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress to take further punitive measures against Turkey; the country risks further sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, which aims to deter third parties from defence partnership with Russia. 

‘’Particularly crucial then and now are the Congress’ Appropriations Committees. Then they cut off funds for arms in the pipeline to Turkey,’’ Manatos said referring to 1974.

Nita Lowey, the House Appropriations Committee chairperson, understands that the United States must take extraordinary steps to try to balance our Eastern Mediterranean policy by bolstering Greece, Cyprus and Israel, he added.

Turkey has been pressing its claims to potentially rich gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean, which has led to tensions between Turkey, Cyprus and Greece.

It is unlikely Lowey will overlook our Executive Branch’s history of routinely ignoring the Congress’ laws regarding Turkey, Manatos said, adding that ‘’her power over the Executive Branch’s budget will make it difficult for them to ignore the Congress’ concern about this dangerous imbalance in the Eastern Mediterranean.’’

http://www.ekathimerini.com/244708/opinion/ekathimerini/comment/is-the-us-congress-coming-through-for-greece-and-cyprus-as-it-did-in-1974