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US ‘repeating Churchill’s bungles’

The Trump administration’s diplomatic row with Turkey is reminiscent of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s “bungles” during World War I which resulted in the Ottoman Empire joining the war on the side of Imperial Germany, according to a US expert.

Martin Sieff, who worked as a senior correspondent for United Press International and The Washington Times for 24 years and also appeared on CNN, NPR, Fox News and BBC as a commentator, made the remarks in an article published on the US-based Strategic Culture Foundation’s website.

“Today, Washington’s reckless and abusive policies towards Turkey are repeating the catastrophic bungles that Churchill inflicted more than a century ago,” Sieff wrote in “Repeating Churchill’s Bungles: Will US Drive Turkey into Joining the Shanghai Pact?”.

Sieff said Churchill, as the political head of the British Navy, ordered the seizure of two state-of-the-art battleships being built in British shipyards for Turkey even though they were already paid for, and this “brought the Turkish Ottoman Empire needlessly into World War I on the side of Imperial Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire”.

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“The move was the political and psychological equivalent of telling Turkey today that the United States is not going to sell Ankara the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters it had promised,” Sieff wrote.

In June, the US Senate passed a bill prohibiting sales to Turkey of F-35 jets, citing Ankara’s decision to purchase Russia’s S-400 air missile defence system as well as its detention of US citizens.

Last December, Turkey announced it had concluded an agreement with Russia for the purchase of two S-400 systems by early 2020. This April, both parties agreed on early delivery of the systems.

According to Sieff, more and more Turks “no longer trust NATO,” and “the only other obvious international security body for Turkey to seek protection with is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization”.

The SCO is a Eurasian political, economic and security organization established in 2001. Originally it included Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Last year, India and Pakistan joined the organization. Iran and Afghanistan currently have observer status.

“Today, Washington is moving heaven and earth to integrate such major world powers as Macedonia, Montenegro and Georgia into NATO to join those vital pillars of world security Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. And at the same time, it is obsessed with imposing ruinous sanctions on Turkey,” Sieff wrote.

“Yet Turkey has been a major member of NATO for 63 years. It continues to play a crucial role in US strategic deployments across the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. Its cooperation is absolutely essential to ensure the supply and – if war were ever to break out with Russia – the very survival of all US warships operating in the Black Sea.”

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