Trump Offered Erdogan a $100bn Trade Deal to Give Up Russian-Made Anti-Aircraft Missiles

Still wasn't enough

Turkish sources say Erdogan said S-400 could not be a matter of discussion

President Trump has offered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, due to visit the White House on Wednesday, a package of inducements for better U.S.-Turkey relations that is virtually identical to those the administration proposed last month in a failed effort to stop Turkey’s invasion of Syria.

In a new letter to Erdogan last week, Trump told the Turkish president that a $100 billion trade deal, and a workaround to avoid U.S. sanctions over Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system, are still possible, senior administration officials said.

The offer is likely to infuriate at least some of the overwhelming House majority that voted last month to impose sanctions on Turkey over its assault into Syria, and a bipartisan group of senators who introduced a similar bill.

“It’s absolutely shameful that President Trump has invited President Erdogan to the White House after Erdogan attacked our Syrian Kurdish allies,” and forces under Turkish command “have committed what this administration itself describes as war crimes,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who sponsored the Senate bill along with seven other Democrats and eight Republicans.

Trump has long shown affinity for the Turkish leader, calling him “a friend,” and “a tough guy who deserves respect.” Erdogan’s White House visit was also part of the package Trump offered in an Oct. 6 phone call with the Turkish leader.

“We took [the offer] off the table, obviously, when the Turks went in” to Syria, one senior official said. “Once we got the cease-fire, of sorts, we decided to put the package, including the visit, back on the table.”

In exchange for Trump’s revived offer, Erdogan would continue what the administration has said is its adherence to an Oct. 17 cease-fire agreement, negotiated with Vice President Pence a week after the invasion began, that limited the Turkish incursion. Turkey, a NATO ally, would also continue to actively support U.S. goals of preventing a resurgence of the Islamic State in Syria and establishing a stable and representative Syrian government.

“The second thing is they resolve the S-400 thing to our satisfaction,” said the senior official, one of several who spoke on the condition of anonymity about internal policy deliberations. Delivery of the Russian system earlier this year triggered a U.S. decision to cut Turkey from the manufacture and purchase of F-35 aircraft, and mandated sanctions under the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), aimed at those who purchase Russian defense equipment.

Trump has delayed imposing those sanctions, despite the insistence by senior administration officials earlier this year that mere delivery of the equipment — which the United States and NATO have said would compromise the stealth capabilities of the new generation F-35 combat jet — would be unacceptable. Delivery began in July.

Now, the administration’s red line is that the S-400s “do not become operational” in a way that would allow them “access to our F-35 communications and defenses,” said the senior official.

One solution under discussion is that Turkey submit to monitoring to ensure it did not unpack and deploy the delivered system. It could then be readmitted to the F-35 program.

Another senior administration official declined to address specifics of the U.S. package but said that “this visit is an opportunity for full and frank engagement with President Erdogan to address the challenges facing the United States-Turkey relationship. The achievement of any bilateral trade goal first requires concrete progress toward resolving major issues, such as Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400.”

The London-based Middle East Eye, which first reported Trump’s new letter to Erdogan, said he also warned that failure to reach agreement on the Russian system could make CAATSA sanctions inevitable. A deal, however, could also assuage the zeal of some senators to punish Turkey for the invasion itself. Van Hollen said his main co-sponsor on the Senate bill, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), was still committed to pushing it forward. Graham, whose office did not respond to a request for comment, has said he would consider dropping the invasion-related sanctions legislation if Turkish forces withdrew from northern Syria.

Turkey’s offensive, launched Oct. 9 after Trump ordered U.S. forces in Syria to pull back from the border and suggested that the Syrian Kurds do the same, did not result in the bloodbath that many had feared. But it has not provided the kind of stability Erdogan’s government had promised, amid ongoing clashes and persistent reports of civilian suffering.

More than a month into the operation, more than 100,000 people in northern Syria remain displaced from their homes, according to the United Nations.

“There are fears that the displaced are not getting access to food, to clean water or to medical supplies,” Margaret Huang, the executive director of Amnesty International, said in a conference call with journalists Tuesday.

A Turkish proxy force, the rebel Syrian National Army, has become a lightning rod for criticism, with its fighters accused of widespread abuses, including summary executions, beatings, kidnappings and looting in areas under Turkey’s control.

Footage captured by U.S. surveillance aircraft over northern Syria has documented several incidents that military officials say may constitute war crimes on the part of Turkish-backed forces there, a U.S. official said.

The U.S. military also is tracking other possible abuses that have been reported by activists or leaders from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Kurdish-led group that U.S. Special Operations troops have worked closely with in Syria for four years in the fight against the Islamic State.

Existence of the videos was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The American repositioning has allowed Russian and Syrian government forces to enter areas that they had been shut out of for years, strengthening the position of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his quest to reclaim all Syrian territory.

But Turkey’s proxy force has also fought with Syria’s national army, in occasionally deadly skirmishes that have threatened a Russian-Turkish agreement intended to calm northern Syria while at the same time dividing the territory into spheres of influence.

Weeks of turbulence have put Ankara on the defensive. Erdogan, who said last month that any abuses by Turkish-allied Syrian rebels would be investigated, has taken to defending them of late, saying this month that the rebels are “defending their land there, hand in hand, arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder with my soldiers.”

  1. Rowdy-Yates says

    After Trump has slapped Turkey silly with sanction after sanction Trump offers this trade deal
    Trump is taking NATO into a new role of defending Israel when NATO was mainly created to contain Communist Russia during the Cold War.
    In the meantime Russia offers Turkey an alliance along with Iran and China offers Turkey the opportunity to be part of the Belt and Roadway initiative. that 100 billion dollars does not look that great when adds to the fact that America’s Patriot missile system is not as good as Russia’s S-400 system.
    Poor Trumpy. He loses again.

  2. thomas malthaus says

    Not knowing the results, President Erdogan may have made passing mention of Turkey’s de-dollarizing efforts, US military removal from Incirlik, and repatriating US-trained terrorists to America from Syria and Turkey.

    The icing may have been related to banning Boeing 737-MAX airlines from its airspace.

    After introductions, the conversation probably headed downhill.

  3. JustPassingThrough says

    nothing worth talking about, is there?
    1. Erdogan has seen the way the US treats its allies, in this case, the kurds.
    2. The US supported/supports the Kurds – sworn enemy of the Turks.
    3. The F-35 is a POS from the git go.
    4. US missile defence is a POS
    5. Turkey will not be a vassal state of the US or anyone else.
    6. NATO is falling apart. Who needs it?
    7. RU gas is in the pipeline.
    8. RU missile systems protection against IL and SA

    It’s not only RU that Turkey would stab in the back, it would also be IR and CN.
    Doesn’t make any sense except to WaPo.

  4. Natural_Texan says

    If you trade with the US, especially Trump’s US under any bilateral agreement you will feel the weight of US government and Financial services coercion. For that matter why should trade need to be made only under restrictive agreements? If the US has something Turks want and they can afford it or have something Americans want that’s the essence of Trade. These Trade deals are promoted as the lifeblood of our economies when in fact they are in large part anathema to free trade.

    1. DarkEyes says

      US and its bodyguard NATO are there to protect “FREE TRADE” and oh yes … democracy.

      What Mr Trump’s self-serving civil servants of the deep state are presenting Turkey is IMO quite oxymoronic.
      And one thing is clear.

      AIPAC Government in Washington is using pampers since Turkey bought the Russian made S-400. The possibility for US to carry out another run on Erdogan to get rid of him has been reduced to a maximum of a half percent.

      They also need extra pampers for there is nobody so unpredictabel as Mr Erdogan of Turkey. The only one person up till now who might have some influence on him is IMO Mr Putin of Russia. And that is good so.

      Turkey might be lost for the NATO fighting club. It seems Mr Erdogan gets from somewhere the right information about the “geopolitical situation in the world”.

      Who knows what might come out later what resources and other treasures Turkey might have under its lands?

    2. Kapricorn4 says

      US exports rob the US population of domestically produced goods and services.

  5. CHUCKMAN says

    A pretty tempting offer, if sincere, but I cannot see Erdogan giving up his S-400s for anything.

    They are an important personal defense for him since they cannot be locked down from abroad the way US and French systems can.

    In the event of another US-inspired coup, he’ll need them.

    And note the way this Mad Hatter, do-whatever-he-pleases President uses American trade volumes now as a weapon to get what he wants in another sphere.

    Literally, we have a man with no inkling of conducting proper negotiations and one having no respect for rule of law.

    1. Linda Wren says

      He has no respect period.

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