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US Secretary of State Nominee Blinken says Turkey “Not Acting Like an Ally”

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U.S. Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken said in his confirmation hearing this week that Turkey is “not acting like an ally” in what were some of the most pointed words coming out of Washington in the recent past.

At his confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Bliken had some very harsh words, very unlike what Turkey is used to hearing from the US side.

Additional sanctions will be considered

U.S. President Joe Biden’s choice for Secretary of State charged fellow NATO member Turkey of not acting like an ally and further stated that the US would review if additional sanctions on Ankara are appropriate over its 2019 purchase of a Russian air defense system.

Last month, Washington finally imposed the long-anticipated sanctions on Turkey’s defense industry over its acquisition of S-400 missile defense systems from Moscow, in a move Turkey called a “grave mistake.”

“Unacceptable”

Reuters reports that Blinken categorized that episode in US-Turkish relations as “unacceptable.”

In the hearings, he told the lawmakers, “The idea that a strategic – so-called strategic – partner of ours would actually be in line with one of our biggest strategic competitors in Russia is not acceptable.

“I think we need to take a look to see the impact that the existing sanctions have had and then determine whether (there is) more that needs to be done,” Blinken stated firmly.

Blinken’s comments came just one day before Joe Biden took the oath of office as President after the four-year term of Donald Trump, with whom Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan had a close relationship, came to an end.

“Turkey is an ally, that in many ways… is not acting as an ally should and this is a very, very significant challenge for us and we’re very clear-eyed about it,” Blinken said.

The sanctions received strong — almost unanimous — bipartisan support from the U.S. Congress and were announced under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) – the first time the act has been used against a fellow member of the NATO alliance.

The support was so widespread that it amounted to more than the two-thirds necessary to counteract a Presidential veto.

The deep disagreement over the S-400 ground-to-air missile system is the top challenge that the Biden administration will have with Turkey, experts says according to Reuters. The two longtime NATO allies have also clashed on Syria policy, Ankara’s oil exploration activities in the eastern Mediterranean, (including in the territorial waters of Greece and Cyprus) and Turkish involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.