US lawmakers oppose F-16 sales to Turkey

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US lawmakers of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues openly disagree with President Joe Biden, who supports Turkey’s request to purchase and upgrade F-16 fighter jets.

A joint statement issued by Congress members Dina Titus, Chris Pappas, Charlie Crist, Carolyn B. Maloney, Frank Pallone, and John Sarbanes expresses concern about the White House’s stance, noting it rewards Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan for not honouring Turkey’s commitments to both the United States and NATO.

“Turkey, specifically their Presidencies of Defense Industries, remains under sanctions through the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) as a result of their purchase of Russian S-400 missile defence system”, they said.

“The Biden Administration has not provided answers to how Turkey would qualify to be exempt from these sanctions and how the Administration would mitigate the risks of co-locating F-16s and modernization kits with a Russian weapons system, which is why Turkey was removed from the F-35 program.”

The statement refers to Turkey’s violations of Greek territory.

“Since the beginning of 2022, Turkey has violated the airspace of fellow NATO ally Greece over 2,377 times, including 120 overflights over Greek territory.

“Turkey’s antagonistic actions in the Aegean Sea, as well as their hostile stance towards the Greek government, make it clear that they do not intend to suspend these aggressive and destabilizing actions soon.”

They argue that if Washington were to proceed with the sale of F-16s, American-made warplanes would undoubtedly be used to enter Greek airspace.

“Over the past seven months, none of Turkey’s actions in the Aegean Sea related to Greece could be classified as defensive but rather are simply intimidation”.

Furthermore, the Congress members note that Turkey has expressed the intention to reinvade Syria to target Kurdish forces in the North.

“Many of these forces have previously fought alongside and assisted US operations in the region.

“If Turkey were to obtain F-16 fighter systems, they would clearly be used in this new offensive against our Syrian Kurdish allies.

“We will continue to object to this weapons transfer and do everything we can to ensure that these F-16s are not delivered to the Turkish government”.

At the NATO Madrid Summit last week, Biden told a press conference that the US supports the sale of modernized F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.

Biden denied his stated support for the F-16 sale was in return for Turkey’s crucial approval of Finland and Sweden’s admission to NATO, pointing out that he had previously expressed his approval before this issue even arose.

However, any F-16 sale would have to be approved by Congress when there is deep disillusionment on Capitol Hill with Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian leadership.