The Test of Relations with USA: CAATSA and Görgün
The U.S. imposed on December 14th,2020, on Turkiye’s Presidency of Defence Industry Agency (SSB) according to Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Thru Sanctions Act (CAATSA) with the claim of engaging in a transaction with Rosoboronexport (ROE), Russia’s primary arms export entity, by procuring the S-400 air defence system.
U.S. State Department underlined that SSB is Turkiye’s primary defence procurement entity and has responsibilities in defence industrial development. Acknowledging SSB’s role in Turkish defence and aviation, the U.S. imposed full blocking sanctions and visa restrictions on Professor İsmail Demir, the president of SSB; Professor Faruk Yiğit, SSB vice president; SSB’s Head of the Department of Air Defence and Space; Serhat Gençoğlu, and Programme Manager for SSB’s Regional Air Defence Systems Directorate; Alper Deniz.
The State Department underlined in its statement that CAATSA 231 does not intend to undermine the military capabilities or combat readiness of Turkiye or any other U.S. partner or ally but rather to impose costs on Russia in response to its wide range of harmful activities. The State Department explained its position, “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 U.S. 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. Turkey nevertheless decided to move ahead with the procurement and testing of the S-400, despite the availability of alternative, NATO-interoperable systems to meet its defence requirements. This decision resulted in Turkey’s suspension and pending removal from the global F-35 Joint Strike Fighter partnership.”
As part of CAATSA, the U.S. imposes on SSB: A prohibition on granting specific U.S. export licences, a prohibition on loans or credits by U.S. financial institutions to SSB, and a ban on U.S. Export-Import Bank assistance for exports to SSB. The U.S. has also personalised the sanction by naming SSB President Professor İsmail Demir and his colleagues Faruk Yiğit, Serhat Gençoğlu and Alper Deniz’s names to impose full blocking sanctions and visa restrictions.
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) added the four individual SSB officers to its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List. As a consequence of this action, all of these individuals’ properties and interests in property that fall under the jurisdiction of the United States have been frozen, and it is generally forbidden for people living there to conduct business with them. Furthermore, any entities directly or indirectly owned 50 per cent or more by one or more blocked persons are barred.
Professor Haluk Görgün is assigned as the new President of SSB as of June 5th. U.S. President Joe Biden recently called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to congratulate him on his re-election. Turkiye wants to acquire F-16 modernisation kits and 40 F-16 Block 70 fighter jets. Turkish Defence Ministry deals with the process of bypassing SSB. U.S.’s attitude towards new SSB President Professor Haluk Görgün will be a turnsole test for bilateral relations.