Amid S-400 crisis, France deploys missile defense battery to Turkey

Ankara has been conducting talks with Eurosam over the purchase of SAMP/T for a decade. (Reuters)
Updated 26 July 2019

Amid S-400 crisis, France deploys missile defense battery to Turkey

  • Turkey sent commando forces to the Syria border on Thursday after warnings that it would launch a new cross-border operation

ANKARA: France will deploy a French–Italian Eurosam consortium’s SAMP/T missile defense battery along Turkey’s fragile southern border, Turkish military officials announced on Thursday, even as the deployment of the Russian S-400 defense systems’ hardware to Ankara continues.

In the meantime, Turkey sent commando forces to the Syria border on Thursday after warnings that it would launch a new cross-border operation if a deal was not reached with Washington about northern Syria.

Ankara has been conducting talks with Eurosam over the purchase of SAMP/T for a decade and it granted Eurosam an 18-month contract for studying the feasibility of the joint production.

Dr. Nilsu Goren, research fellow at the Center for International and Security Studies (CISSM) in Maryland, said the French decision to deploy a SAMP/T in Turkey is not surprising, and it seems to have been formulated as a NATO force generation response to the recent attacks on Turkish cities along the Syrian border.

“Other NATO air defense assets, including an Italian SAMP/T battery, have been deployed in Turkey throughout the conflict,” she told Arab News.

“According to Turkish officials, the S-400 air defense system will be ‘standalone,’ meaning that it would not be interoperable with any NATO assets, including the French SAMP/T,” Goren said.

To deter aerial threats arising from the region, Turkey will need to continue to work on creating a layered, network-based national air and missile defense system that is interoperable with its NATO assets, Goren said.

Serhat Guvenc, professor of international relations from Istanbul’s Kadir Has University, said the political meaning of French decision is far greater than its military aspect as this decision is an unprecedented move and is a huge political change on the part of France.

“Since the 1990s, various NATO countries such as Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain and the US have been deploying and operating aerial defense missiles to Turkey’s southern border, but this is the first time that France has done it,” he told Arab News, saying that this decision also contradicts the widespread belief that Turkey and France compete with each other on the Eastern Mediterranean.

 

 For Guvenc, this decision can be taken as a symbol of France’s commitment to Turkey’s security and its show of solidarity with Turkey.

“France, which may not be considered as a traditional ally for Turkey in NATO, is willing to show that Turkey is not alone and therefore this move is meant to address the country’s concrete security problems and its fear of abandonment in the Alliance, which was presented as Ankara’s pretext for purchasing S-400 from Moscow,” Guvenc said.

Once S-400 missile system will be activated — not expected to be before April 2020 — French batteries will not be compatible with them.

Experts note that these batteries are mostly deployed for a duration of 6 months to one year, and this term is extended each time. 

Therefore, in the event of S-400 activation, the term of Eurosam’s batteries may not be extended for the second time because of the lack of interoperability.

Eurosam’s SAMP/T is a new generation mobile, anti-aircraft defense weapon for protecting sensitive areas against lone missiles. 

With a range exceeding 100 km, it aims to meet medium and long-range air defense requirements against conflicts unfolding along its borders with Syria and Iraq.

Decoder

SAMP/T

It is a new generation anti-aircraft defense weapon for protecting sensitive areas against lone missiles.


Israeli attack aimed to get Netanyahu out of the jam

Updated 43 min 50 sec ago

Israeli attack aimed to get Netanyahu out of the jam

AMMAN: Pundits and politicians appear to agree that the assassination of Islamic Jihad leader Bahaa Abu Al-Atta and his wife in Gaza, as well as the failed attack in Damascus against Akram Ajoury was committed to assuage domestic Israeli political tensions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing a corruption indictment and possibly about to lose power to opponent Benny Gantz, apparently acted in his own self-interest, disrupting political talks and potentially destabilizing Gantz’ support from the Arab Joint List.

Jafar Farah, director of the Haifa-based Mossawa Center, told Arab News the Israeli attack in Gaza had all but ended the possibility of the Joint List supporting any Israeli government.

“Before the attack, 10 out of the 13 elected members of the Knesset were on board with the idea of supporting, externally, a minority government. Now the number of those supporting this has been reduced, as the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality are opposed to supporting any government,” he said.

Gantz, who apparently was briefed before the attack, has come out publicly in support of Israel’s actions, which killed over 20 Palestinians including women and children.

Michel Oun, Middle East professor at Haifa University, told Arab News that a major reason behind the Israeli attack was internal politics. “If we can use football terms, we were in the last minutes of the game, time was running out on Netanyahu, he had to do something,” Oun said, adding that the attack had ended any possibility of an Israeli minority government with the Arab Joint List supporting it.

“I was always skeptical about this issue even before the attacks on Gaza, because of the paternalistic and racist way Israelis were talking about it in which the very idea of having Arab members of the Knesset supporting a government, even from the outside, was seen as unacceptable and treasonous.”

Merav Michaeli, a member of the Knesset from the Israeli Labor Party, told Arab News that the way Netanyahu used the attack in Gaza was suspicious. 

“I saw the chief of staff and head of the secret service standing and talking about the necessity and opportunity that was provided to them. I believe that the Israeli civil service officials are telling the truth, although the attack was greatly exploited and abused politically. The very fact that Netanyahu had to bring these military officials to the press conference shows that half of Israel does not trust him and he had to have them confirm their position,” she said.

Pundits had opposing views as to who would benefit from the stretch of the cycle of attacks with Gaza. “Regardless of politics I hope that the violence ends as soon as possible,” Michaeli told Arab News.