Turkey undermining NATO alliance, says U.S. foreign affairs committee

Turkey is undermining the NATO alliance and endangering the broader region, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee said on Wednesday.

In a joint statement, committee chairman Eliot Engel and lead Republican party member Michael McCaul said they were “gravely concerned” by Turkey’s recent actions, including the acquisition of the Russian-made S-400 missile defence system.

Turkey reportedly tested the missiles in October despite warnings the Russian-built system risks undermining NATO’s operational security.   

“We strongly urge (Turkish) President Erdoğan to put an end to Turkey’s provocative behaviour so the United States and Turkey can once again enjoy a close and cooperative relationship,” the statement said.

U.S. sanctions on Turkey for purchasing the S-400 missiles came into effect on Monday, despite having been initially resisted by outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump.

The move follows last week’s decision by the European Union to sanction further individuals involved in Turkey’s drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean.

EU members Greece and Cyprus accuse Turkey of violating their maritime boundaries in a dispute over recently discovered hydrocarbons in contested waters in the region. 

“The United States must work with its European and NATO allies and partners to continue to use all of the tools at their disposal to demand that Turkey reverse course,” the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee said.

The committee raised concerns over Turkey’s military operation in Syria which “risked reversing critical gains by the United States and our local partners in the ongoing counter-Islamic State fight and exacerbated the existing humanitarian crisis”.

Erdoğan had also “fanned the flames of other global conflicts" by deploying Syrian mercenary fighters during Turkey’s military intervention in Libya and in support of Azerbaijan in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, the committee said.

Turkey’s “destabilising actions need to be more strongly addressed,” it said.