July 5, 2022 | FDD Tracker: June 3, 2022-July 5, 2022

Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker: July

July 5, 2022 | FDD Tracker: June 3, 2022-July 5, 2022

Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker: July

Trend Overview

Edited by John Hardie

Welcome back to the Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker. Once a month, we ask FDD’s experts and scholars to assess the administration’s foreign policy. They provide trendlines of very positive, positive, neutral, negative, or very negative for the areas they watch.

President Joe Biden ended the month at the NATO summit in Madrid, where he and allied leaders announced measures to strengthen their military presence in Europe following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Turkey greenlit Finland’s and Sweden’s bids to join NATO, while the administration expressed support for Ankara’s request for F-16s. At the G7, Biden and his counterparts agreed to explore how to cap the price of Russian oil exports and launched a project to fund infrastructure in developing countries and counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

When it comes to redressing Beijing’s illiberal economic practices, however, the Biden team remains divided on how to proceed. Separately, the administration threw some counterpunches in an intensifying U.S.-China fight for influence in the Pacific Islands, but Washington still seems two steps behind Beijing in advancing economic ties with Indo-Pacific countries.

Meanwhile, Washington and Tehran resumed talks aimed at reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Biden’s determination to rejoin the deal despite its fatal flaws continues to unnerve America’s Gulf allies and Israel, which — with Washington’s encouragement — are boosting their defense cooperation to counter Iran. Closer to home, the administration struggled to assert U.S. leadership in America’s backyard as key Latin American partners snubbed Biden’s Summit of the Americas.

Please check back in with us next month to see how the administration dealt with these and other challenges.


By Craig Singleton

Previous Trend: Negative

The Biden administration remains deeply divided over whether and how to confront China’s illiberal economic policies. For example, last year, President Biden signed an executive order requiring U.S. investors to sell stocks and bonds linked to 59 “Chinese military-industrial complex” companies. However, the Biden administration reversed itself last month, stating that investors are no longer required to divest such holdings. The administration gave no explanation for its regulatory U-turn, which undermines the U.S. goal of confronting the threat posed by China’s state-directed military companies.

Moreover, with inflation surging, some administration officials, such as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, support relaxing (or in some cases eliminating) many Trump-era tariffs on Chinese imports. Doing so could potentially reduce inflation by 1.3 percent. Nevertheless, White House officials, as well as U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, reportedly believe waiving tariffs could undercut Washington’s negotiating leverage as it seeks to address longstanding trade imbalances with Beijing. Both arguments have merit. But so far, Biden has not publicly revealed where he stands on this important issue, resulting in policy paralysis.

These and other debates coincide with new data indicating that China’s economy, whose growth has long been slowing, now faces recession due to Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s fiscal mismanagement. With China hobbled by its own economic crisis, the White House should expeditiously evaluate opportunities to advance America’s financial standing at China’s expense. Unfortunately, there is little indication the Biden administration is prepared to do so.


By RADM (Ret.) Mark Montgomery and Jiwon Ma

Previous Trend: Neutral

President Biden on June 21 signed two bipartisan bills aimed at enhancing federal cybersecurity. The first allows federal employees to rotate through cybersecurity positions at various federal agencies and requires the Office of Personnel Management to distribute an annual list of open positions to federal employees. The second law aims to improve federal cybersecurity coordination with state and local governments.

In partnership with the FBI and Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Justice on June 7 announced it had shut down SSNDOB Marketplace, where cybercriminals could buy stolen Social Security numbers and other information.

On June 3, Biden nominated Nate Fick to head the State Department’s newly created Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy. Fick will lead various cyber capacity building programs and advance U.S. efforts to shape international cybersecurity standards.

Earlier this week, President Biden and his G7 counterparts formally launched the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, a $600 billion initiative designed to mobilize financing for critical infrastructure in emerging countries, including digital connectivity programs. The Biden administration aims to mobilize $200 billion in aid. The United States and European Union reportedly also plan to launch a joint funding effort to protect critical infrastructure in developing countries from cyberattacks. Finally, at this week’s NATO summit, the allies committed to bolster civil-military cooperation on cyber and to establish “a virtual rapid response cyber capability.”

Next month, U.S. officials reportedly will meet with Russian representatives regarding cybercriminal threats emanating from Russia, continuing a series of discussions initiated before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.


By Bradley Bowman

Previous Trend: Positive

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with his Chinese counterpart, General Wei Fenghe, in Singapore on June 10, the first meeting between the two leaders. Austin highlighted the need for “improving crisis communications and reducing strategic risk.” Wei said the two countries should avoid escalation and seek “healthy and stable” relations.

In a speech the next day at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Austin detailed Chinese provocations that contrast starkly with Wei’s calls for stability. “We’re seeing [Chinese] vessels plunder the region’s provisions, operating illegally within the territorial waters of other Indo-Pacific countries,” Austin said. He noted “an alarming increase in the number of unsafe aerial intercepts and confrontations at sea by [Chinese military] aircraft and vessels,” as well as record numbers of Chinese aircraft operating near Taiwan. Austin also reaffirmed U.S. opposition to Taiwanese independence and emphasized Washington’s continued willingness to arm Taipei to deter an attack by Beijing, which is conducting what the commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command on June 24 called “the largest military buildup in history since World War II.”

At the NATO summit on June 29, President Biden announced plans to strengthen America’s military posture in Europe in response to Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Highlights include basing two additional destroyers at Rota Naval Base in Spain; establishing a permanent headquarters of the U.S. 5th Army Corps in Poland; positioning a rotational brigade combat team in Romania; enhancing rotational deployments to the Baltic republics; deploying two additional F-35 squadrons to the United Kingdom; and sending additional air defense and other capabilities to Germany and Italy.


By John Hardie

Previous Trend: Positive

G7 leaders on June 28 agreed to explore a U.S.-proposed mechanism to cap the price of Russian oil exports. Frustrated that their embargoes on Russian oil have apparently backfired, the Western allies hope to restrict Russia’s export revenue while reducing oil prices. However, some allies remain skeptical about the idea, so it is unclear whether it will come to fruition. Separately, President Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen issued a statement pledging joint efforts to ensure European energy security.

At the NATO summit, the alliance approved a new Strategic Concept, which addresses the China “challenge” for the first time. They also launched a €1 billion NATO Innovation Fund to invest in dual-use emerging technologies and agreed to establish a cyber rapid-reaction force. NATO extended formal invitations to Finland and Sweden after Turkey lifted its veto of their accession bids.

To bolster deterrence of Russia, the allies agreed to what NATO’s secretary general called “the biggest overhaul of our collective deterrence and defence since the Cold War.” Among other things, the allies plan to expand NATO’s rapid-response force from 40,000 troops to over 300,000 and enhance some of the battlegroups deployed in eastern-flank countries into brigades, although meeting those commitments may prove challenging for European members that have struggled to resource the current, more modest posture. The United States, for its part, committed to increase its air, ground, and naval presence in Europe, including along NATO’s eastern flank (see Defense section for details).


By Hussain Abdul-Hussain

Previous Trend: Positive

The Biden administration is sending mixed messages to its Middle Eastern allies. On the one hand, the White House says “deterring threats from Iran” will be a key focus of President Biden’s trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia in mid-July. On the other, the administration resumed indirect nuclear negotiations with Tehran in Doha on June 28, seeking to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. America’s Gulf allies, along with Israel, see that deal as dangerously inadequate and therefore oppose the talks. After two days of negotiations, both sides said there were no signs of progress. The negotiations came days after Washington announced it would grant visas to certain former members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a decision that Gulf capitals likely interpret as another indication of weakness in Washington.

Saudi pundits had called on Washington to invite Arab governments to the nuclear talks. Instead, the Biden administration rewarded Tehran by agreeing to its demand that Doha, which is friendly with the Islamic Republic, host the negotiations. In so doing, Washington demonstrated that Arab governments can raise their profiles by pursuing friendly relations with Iran.

Potential normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel will likely be looming in the background of Biden’s trip. Behind closed doors, Riyadh is expected to continue improving its ties — especially military coordination — with the Jewish state. The Saudis and Emiratis have reportedly expressed interest in hosting Israeli sensors as part of a regional air defense network designed to counter threats from Iran, a project pushed by U.S. Central Command.



By Craig Singleton

Previous Trend: Neutral

Weeks after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi completed a 10-nation Pacific Island tour, the Biden administration took steps to bolster its footing in the Indo-Pacific. On June 24, for example, the administration launched the “Blue Pacific” pact alongside Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the United Kingdom. This new, informal mechanism’s goals include assisting Pacific Island countries in addressing challenges such as climate change, pandemic preparedness, and regional security. In addition, Ambassador Joseph Yun, U.S. special envoy to the Freely Associated States, completed his first regional trip since being appointed last March. Yun and representatives from the Marshall Islands completed an initial round of negotiations aimed at extending the Compact of Free Association, a set of provisions governing financial, defense, and economic agreements between the two nations that begins expiring in 2023.

Amid the fanfare of America’s renewed focus on the Pacific, Beijing hosted high-level meetings to strengthen the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The United States is not a party to RCEP, the world’s largest trade pact, which includes China and the 10-member ASEAN bloc as well as Australia, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand. In contrast with the Biden administration’s recently launched Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, RCEP provides member states with greatly enhanced market access, including to China’s lucrative domestic market, and reduces or eliminates both tariff and non-tariff trade barriers. Beijing is already crafting implementation guidelines in areas such as manufacturing and using the renminbi for certain trade transactions. Such moves will help China stabilize its regional relationships and deepen its influence, in some cases at Washington’s expense.

International Organizations

By Richard Goldberg

Previous Trend: Very Negative

The Biden administration proved unable to use its seat on the UN Human Rights Council to terminate the mandate of the council’s biased Commission of Inquiry into Israel, even after the commission on June 7 published its first report designed to delegitimize the Jewish state. Although it organized a statement signed by 21 countries condemning the commission, the administration opted not to introduce a resolution to terminate its mandate — despite having previously pledged to use U.S. influence on the council to oppose the commission. The administration’s failure to halt the commission calls into question its stated thesis that it can reform the council through diplomatic engagement.

Separately, the Biden administration pushed through a resolution at the World Trade Organization to allow certain countries to compel U.S. vaccine makers to forfeit their intellectual property and hand over their COVID-19 vaccine recipes for generic manufacturing. The United Kingdom opposed the move, arguing it could undermine future research and development in the pharmaceutical industry by removing protections for intellectual property rights.

Finally, despite the administration’s promises to expand Taiwan’s participation in international organizations, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry on June 27 announced he would attend the upcoming UN Ocean Conference even though Beijing has blocked Taiwanese experts from participating. Kerry’s announcement came hours after Tuvalu declared it would boycott the summit due to Taiwan’s exclusion. This follows China’s blocking of Taiwanese attendance at the annual World Health Assembly in May.


By Behnam Ben Taleblu and Richard Goldberg

Previous Trend: Negative

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors censured Iran on June 8 for its non-cooperation with an IAEA investigation into undeclared nuclear activities, which likely violate the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Tehran responded by removing IAEA monitoring cameras at a nuclear facility, a move the IAEA director general called a “fatal blow” to the 2015 nuclear deal. Meanwhile, Iran is reportedly tunneling to create what may be another nuclear site south of its Natanz facility, potentially making a future military strike more challenging. Tehran also conducted another test of a satellite-launch vehicle that can help Iran develop its long-range strike capabilities.

On June 16, the Treasury Department issued sanctions against an Iranian petrochemical trade network utilizing a Trump-era executive order — the first time the Biden administration has used this broad authority to target Iranian sanctions-busting schemes. Treasury’s sanctions follow a similar measure against Iranian oil smuggling networks in May. It is not yet clear, however, whether these enforcement actions signal a strategic shift away from the administration’s goal of returning to the 2015 nuclear deal or merely warning shots designed to induce Iran to accept the latest U.S. offer.

Indeed, after an over three-month-long pause, Washington and Tehran resumed indirect nuclear negotiations in Doha on June 28 and 29. The talks reportedly picked up where they left off in March, with Washington offering Tehran over $100 billion in sanctions relief in exchange for a modified version of the 2015 accord. Yet the negotiations yielded no progress, as Iran continues to stonewall.


By David May

Previous Trend: Neutral

In a May 31 meeting of the U.S.-Israel Strategic Consultative Group, the American and Israeli national security advisors focused largely on deterring Iran’s nuclear and regional ambitions. The Israeli side reportedly rejected an American proposal for a Israeli-Palestinian summit, which Jerusalem argues would achieve little besides potentially escalating tensions on the ground.

In mid-June, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf traveled to the Holy Land and met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Leaf announced that the U.S. Palestinian Affairs Unit would report directly to Washington on substantive matters, reversing the Trump administration’s decision to have it report to the U.S. Embassy in Israel. The Biden administration fell short of Abbas’ demands to reopen a consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem and to remove the Palestine Liberation Organization’s label as a terrorist group. Leaf also met with Israeli officials and reportedly asked them to avoid actions that could inflame Israeli-Palestinian tensions before President Biden’s July visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia.

On June 21, Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed to his Israeli counterpart that the president’s visit will proceed despite the Israeli parliament’s dissolution. Ahead of Biden’s visit, the White House has worked on a “road map for normalization” between Jerusalem and Riyadh.

From June 20 to 22, senior officials from the Israel Defense Forces and U.S. Central Command met to facilitate U.S.-Israel cooperation and a potential regional coalition to oppose Iran. A few days later, however, U.S. and Iranian officials resumed indirect talks on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, a prospect Jerusalem opposes.


By David Maxwell

Previous Trend: Positive

The Biden administration has unsurprisingly made no progress toward its goal of denuclearizing North Korea, which many experts suspect will conduct its seventh nuclear test in the near future. Meanwhile, Pyongyang’s June 23 Eighth Central Military Commission meeting apparently provided new guidance to the frontline Army Corps, including planning for the employment of tactical nuclear weapons.

Even as it continues to emphasize that it is willing to engage North Korea anytime, anywhere, and without preconditions, the Biden administration remains focused on “stern deterrence” of Pyongyang. Each North Korean provocation provides an opportunity to emphasize the strength of the ROK-U.S. alliance and to demonstrate that the regime’s efforts to secure sanctions relief through intimidation will not succeed.

The Biden administration is responding to Pyongyang’s latest provocations by increasing military training and exercises to overcome the decline in readiness over the past four years, during which time U.S. and ROK forces canceled, postponed, and scaled back major combined exercises. Washington and Seoul appear to be in lockstep about the importance of resuming aggressive training. In addition, during a June 13 meeting between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his South Korean counterpart, the two leaders agreed to revive the U.S.-ROK Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group, aimed at enhancing deterrence of Pyongyang.

On June 29, President Biden and his South Korean and Japanese counterparts held a trilateral meeting at the NATO summit in Spain. Improving alliance relationships, especially trilateral cooperation between South Korea, Japan, and the United States, is a key objective of the Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy.

Latin America

By Carrie Filipetti and Emanuele Ottolenghi

Previous Trend: Negative

President Biden hosted Fabiana Rosales, the wife of Venezuela’s legitimate president, Juan Guaidó, at the White House on June 23. It was a belated gesture to compensate for the administration’s decision not to invite Guaidó to its Summit of the Americas earlier in June. But, coming as the administration appears poised to lift sanctions against Venezuelan oil and continues to neglect U.S. hostages held in Venezuela, the gesture did little to reassure Venezuela’s opposition of U.S. support.

Beyond the Venezuela issue, the Summit of the Americas was a failure for U.S. diplomacy. The president of Mexico, America’s biggest trade partner in Latin America, snubbed the summit, as did the leaders of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, which all recently received generous U.S. aid packages to help stem immigration to the United States. The fact that so many regional leaders refused to attend exposed the decline of U.S. influence in Latin America.

Meanwhile, left-wing populist movements are gaining momentum across the region. Former Marxist guerrilla Gustavo Petro emerged victorious from a June 20 presidential runoff in Colombia, Washington’s staunchest ally in the region, while spreading protests in Ecuador risk destabilizing the government of center-right leader Guillermo Lasso. The growing tide of left-wing populism sweeping Latin America threatens to undermine U.S. influence while offering opportunities for the likes of China, Russia, and Iran, which continue to make inroads in the region.


By Tony Badran

Previous Trend: Very Negative

The Biden administration finally convinced a reluctant Egypt to sign a contract with the outgoing Lebanese government to export Egyptian gas to Lebanon via Jordan and Syria, against warnings from Congress that the deal violates U.S. sanctions against Damascus. The State Department’s spokesman welcomed the signing.

The Lebanese energy minister, meanwhile, disclosed that U.S. energy envoy Amos Hochstein, who visited Beirut in June, told the Lebanese he would work “by all necessary means” to facilitate World Bank funding and to shield the deal from U.S. sanctions. At a congressional hearing in June, Hochstein reiterated the administration’s false assertion that the deal does not violate sanctions.

Hochstein also delivered to Jerusalem a verbal counteroffer from Beirut — hence ultimately from Hezbollah, which dominates the Lebanese government — regarding the delineation of the Israel-Lebanon maritime border. The Lebanese reportedly asked for an additional slice of Israeli waters in order not to share a prospective gas field that extends well beyond the disputed area. The administration is pressing Jerusalem to advance the talks toward an agreement based on these parameters, explicitly adopting a position of equidistance between Israel and Lebanon (and therefore Hezbollah) on this issue.

Meanwhile, the administration continues to push ahead with an initiative to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) via a UN-managed fund. Yet the scheme reportedly was dismissed by Riyadh, a key target donor for the administration. The Saudis continue to resist U.S. pressure to invest in the LAF or any other part of the Lebanese official apparatus, because Riyadh rightly regards them as beholden to Hezbollah.

Nonproliferation and Biodefense

By Anthony Ruggiero and Andrea Stricker

Previous Trend: Negative

The United States and Iran restarted indirect nuclear talks in Qatar but without the participation of the other five parties to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, and China). Washington hopes to convince Tehran to rejoin the expiring accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but the first meeting reportedly ended without progress, and it is unclear whether the negotiations will continue. The talks had been stalled since March over President Biden’s decision to reject Tehran’s request to de-list Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran has not cooperated with the agency’s nearly four-year-old investigation into Tehran’s undeclared nuclear activities. On June 8, the IAEA’s Board of Governors adopted a censure resolution calling on Iran to fulfill its safeguards obligations. In response, Tehran further restricted IAEA monitoring and expanded its enrichment capabilities. Iran has amassed enough enriched uranium to produce five atomic bombs (following further enrichment). The JCPOA would only temporarily cap Tehran’s production of fissile material and would permit the regime to start expanding its advanced centrifuge program in 2024.

Meanwhile, North Korea continues to prepare for a nuclear test. Pyongyang may also be preparing to deploy nuclear-capable short-range missiles to forward positions. Perversely, this has happened at the same time as North Korea assumed the presidency of the UN Conference on Disarmament. Elsewhere in Asia, China admitted to conducting a nuclear weapons buildup, which violates its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.


By John Hardie

Previous Trend: Positive

The United States and its allies continued racing to sustain Ukraine’s military in its grinding fight against Russian forces in the country’s east and south. In mid-June, the Biden administration announced an additional $1 billion in military assistance for Ukraine, including 18 M777 howitzers and associated tow vehicles, 36,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition, and additional GMLRS rockets. Washington will also procure for Ukraine two Harpoon coastal defense systems as well as thousands of secure radios, night vision devices, thermal sights, and other optics. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced the package at a meeting of the U.S.-organized Ukraine Defense Contact Group, where allies announced additional packages of much-needed rocket and tube artillery, among other things.

A week later, the administration announced another $450 million in drawdown military assistance for Ukraine, including 18 coastal and riverine patrol boats and four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), building on the four HIMARS that have already arrived on the battlefield. Separately, the Treasury Department on Wednesday announced the delivery of $1.3 billion in economic aid to Ukraine, the initial tranche of the $7.5 billion economic aid package Congress passed last month. Finally, on July 1, the administration unveiled a $820 million military aid package, including $50 million worth of GMLRS rockets. As part of that package, the administration will also procure for Ukraine 150,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition, four additional counter-artillery radars, and — for the first time — two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, although a senior Pentagon official predicted their delivery timeline will range from “weeks to months.”

Sunni Jihadism

By Bill Roggio

Previous Trend: Negative

On June 27, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) launched a drone strike targeting Abu Hamzah al-Yemeni, a senior leader and military commander of Hurras al-Din, an al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group based in Syria. The operation marked the first U.S. strike against Hurras al-Din in nine months. CENTCOM believes it killed Yemeni, but his death has not been confirmed. He was also reported to have been killed in a U.S. strike in September 2021. In a press release announcing the strike, CENTCOM said, “Al Qaeda-aligned organizations such as Hurras al-Din … continue to present a threat to America and our allies. Al Qaeda-aligned militants use Syria as a safe haven to coordinate with their external affiliates and plan operations outside of Syria.”

On June 16, U.S.-led coalition forces captured “an experienced bomb maker and operational facilitator who became one of the top leaders of [the Islamic State’s] Syrian branch,” according to a statement released by Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. And on June 3, a U.S. military strike in Somalia killed five fighters from al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda’s branch in East Africa. The strike took place just weeks after President Biden authorized the U.S. military to send troops back into Somalia to aid in the fight against al-Shabaab.

Although these U.S. operations targeting terrorist leaders in Syria and Somalia are positive events, the sporadic killing or capturing of terrorist leaders will not substantially reduce the overall terrorist threat facing the United States. Terrorist leaders are targeted too infrequently to do significant damage to these groups.


By David Adesnik

Previous Trend: Negative

“Babies will die.” That is how Washington’s UN envoy, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, explained the cost of a potential failure by the Security Council to reauthorize the direct delivery of aid to northwestern Syria. The current authorization expires on July 10. Thomas-Greenfield visited the Turkish-Syrian border region in early June to raise awareness of the dire conditions facing the 4 million inhabitants of northwest Syria, an enclave that remains under the control of Islamist rebels and militias backed by Ankara.

What jeopardizes the delivery of aid, however, is not a deficient awareness of suffering in the region, but Russian threats to veto the reauthorization. Moscow claims it wants to preserve Syria’s sovereignty, but its real objection is that the regime of Bashar al-Assad cannot control or expropriate aid that goes directly to those in need without passing through Damascus.

Rather than denouncing Russia for endangering the lives and well-being of millions, Thomas-Greenfield and other senior administration officials have avoided references to Moscow’s threats, except when journalists have pressed them on it. Instead, Thomas-Greenfield has claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin knows it is not in his interest for Syrians to starve. This kid-glove approach won Russian approval for a 12-month reauthorization last year, yet that was before the invasion of Ukraine led to intense U.S.-Russia antagonism. The best hope now for the people of northwest Syria is for Putin to decide against triggering a humanitarian disaster on Turkey’s doorstep, lest it raise tensions between Moscow and Ankara.




By Sinan Ciddi

Previous Trend: Negative

At the NATO summit in Madrid, Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan lifted his veto of Finland’s and Sweden’s bids to join the alliance. Erdogan likely made this accommodation based on two factors: First, both Scandinavian countries gave Turkey assurances to address its security concerns regarding the PKK Kurdish terrorist group. Second, the Biden administration signaled that if Erdogan lifted his objections, it would work to encourage Congress to allow Ankara to acquire new F-16 fighters and modernization kits for Turkey’s existing F-16s.

Earlier in the month, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo visited Turkey to warn Ankara against helping Russia circumvent Western sanctions. The administration suspects Turkey, which did not join the sanctions regime, of providing safe haven for Russian assets in Turkish banks. Adeyemo likely also raised Ankara’s tolerance of wealthy Russians buying real estate in Turkey as well as Russian companies re-registering in Turkey to avoid sanctions. This issue highlights how Turkey has played both sides of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, for example by selling Bayraktar drones to Kyiv while also striking agreements with Moscow to import stolen Ukrainian grain. Ankara will likely ignore Adeyemo’s warning unless the Biden administration demonstrates its willingness to punish Turkish facilitation of Russian sanctions evasion. So far, however, the administration does not appear prepared to do so.


The analyses above do not necessarily represent the institutional views of FDD.


Arab Politics Biodefense China Cyber Gulf States Indo-Pacific International Organizations Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran in Latin America Israel Jihadism Lebanon Military and Political Power Nonproliferation North Korea Russia Syria The Long War Turkey U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy