(Photo credit: Reuters)
The US congressional committee will vote on a bipartisan measure to restrict the capacity of US President Biden to sell F-16 jets to Turkey, with a senate democrat refusing to sign off on the sale.
This latest decision will hinder the current administration from following through on Washington’s pledge to sell jets to their NATO ally.
Experts say that the sale would “embrace authoritarianism” as well as endorse Ankara’s violations of the sovereignty of their neighboring nations.
“How do you reward a nation that does all of those things?” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez remarked during an interview, adding “I don’t see it. Now, if they want to start changing their ways, that’s a different story.”
Menendez is one of the four lawmakers whose approval is required for foreign military sales. The committee chair has opposed the sale, doubling down this week, specifically after President Biden announced at the recent NATO summit that he wanted the sale to be authorized.
Biden’s remarks came after Ankara dropped its opposition to the NATO membership of Sweden and Finland, though Washington claims there was no connection between Biden’s assurances and Turkey’s recent move.
The Biden administration signaled its support to sell F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, one day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lifted a veto of NATO membership for Finland and Sweden.
Congressional lawmakers continue to reiterate that Turkey should not have attempted to prevent the two European nations from joining NATO.
In addition, Ankara is facing US sanctions due to its previous acquisitions of Russian missile defense systems, and due to Turkish pilots violating Greek airspace hundreds of times over the past few weeks.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that, in line with Turkey’s condition for the entry of Sweden into NATO, Ankara must receive guarantees that Sweden will extradite the 73 members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that it is currently holding.
In his announcement on 30 June, the Turkish president also pointed out, however, that his country can block the decision to allow Sweden into the western military alliance if it fails to comply with the terms of Ankara.
“Sweden gave its word on the extradition of terrorists, [and] there are about 73 of them. We were given guarantees,” Erdogan said following the NATO summit in Madrid earlier this week.
Erdogan referred to the Swedish decision as a “diplomatic victory” for Turkey, if its conditions are successfully met.
The president said Turkey will “monitor the implementation of the guarantees, assurances and obligations given to us … in case of non-compliance, we will not send the [proposal for ratification] to the parliament.”
Weeks earlier, Ankara announced its military invasion in northern Syria, as well as its intention to re-organize their shared border and to fight alleged threats from Kurdish armed groups, such as the PKK and the People Defense Unit (YPG).