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35 US lawmakers oppose sale of F-16 to Turkey; letter to Joe Biden

A group of 35 bipartisan lawmakers in US Congress sent a letter to President Joe Biden expressing their opposition to the proposed sale of F-16 fighter planes to Turkey.

US Representative Frank Pallone (Democrats) posted a copy of the letter on Twitter, saying that, “We must not support Turkey’s military until tangible steps are taken to stop Erdogan’s destabilizing actions and violations of international law.”

The other signatories to the letter were: Karen Bass, Gus M. Bilirakis, Tony Cárdenas, Judy Chu, David N. Cicilline, Jim Costa, Mike Doyle, Anna G. Eshoo, Brian Fitzpatrick, Chuck Fleischmann, Louie Gohmert, Josh Gottheimer, Raúl M. Grijalva, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Susie Lee, Ted W. Lieu, Nicole Malliotakis, Carolyn B. Maloney, James P. McGovern, Grace Meng, Grace F. Napolitano, Chris Pappas, Donald Payne, Linda T. Sánchez, John Sarbanes, Jan Schakowsky, Adam B. Schiff, Brad Sherman, Albio Sires, Christopher H. Smith, Jackie Speier, David G. Valadao and Peter Welch.

“We have strongly urged the rejection of this sale because it would reward President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for ignoring Turkey’s alliance commitments to the United States and NATO and the vast human rights abuses his regime continues to commit at home and abroad,” the letter says.

“The sale of American advanced fighter jets to Turkey will not incentivize Erdogan to suddenly transform into a good ally. More likely, these weapons will lead to further death and destruction in the region,” it says.

“Precedent shows that Erdogan will not change his behavior if we continue to reward his efforts to undermine the NATO alliance. The United States must not provide any further support to Turkey’s military until tangible steps are taken to halt his destabilizing actions and violations of international law at home and abroad.”

The Full Letter

Dear President Biden,

We are deeply concerned by comments made on June 30 at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Madrid, Spain, on the potential sale of Block 70 F-16s and mechanical upgrades to Turkey. We have strongly urged the rejection of this sale because it would reward President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for ignoring Turkey’s alliance commitments to the United States and NATO and the vast human rights abuses his regime continues to commit at home and abroad.

Erdogan has consistently chosen to prioritize divisive tactics for personal gain above the collective good of his allies. His choice to block Finland and Sweden from joining NATO until he received absurd and unrelated concessions makes it clear that he has done the bare minimum to bolster NATO’s strategic posture since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered the largest crisis the alliance has faced in decades.

Erdogan’s use of alarming tactics antithetical to the common good of the NATO alliance should not come as a surprise. His regime has repeatedly used its military power to destabilize the Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East, South Caucasus, and North Africa for years. Turkish and Turkish-backed forces have utilized American-made weaponry and components during these incursions to commit war crimes, including purposefully bombing civilian targets like hospitals and schools in Iraq, Syria, and Nagorno Karabakh. They have also been used repeatedly to violate the sovereign territory of NATO allies and partners like Greece and Cyprus. These are hardly the actions of a committed ally to the United States and Europe.

The sale of American advanced fighter jets to Turkey will not incentivize Erdogan to suddenly transform into a good ally. More likely, these weapons will lead to further death and destruction in the region. Turkey also continues to utilize S-400 missile defense systems, which potentially exposes important tactical information about US weaponry and military operations to Russia.

Additionally, the Erdogan regime continues to promote unfair elections, suppress civil society, and abuse human rights at home to maintain its grip on power. With the Turkish economy in decline and Erdogan’s standing at an all-time low, news outlets directly controlled by his repressive ruling party will use any major weapons sale as propaganda to prop him up like they have already done with the concessions obtained at the NATO summit.

As your Administration seeks to advance the sale of new F-16s and modernization kits to Turkey, please know that we will take every action afforded to us as Members of Congress to prevent it from moving forward. Precedent shows that Erdogan will not change his behavior if we continue to reward his efforts to undermine the NATO alliance. The United States must not provide any further support to Turkey’s military until tangible steps are taken to halt his destabilizing actions and violations of international law at home and abroad.

Thank you for your attention to these concerns, and we look forward to your timely response.

It is recalled that on July 5, an other bipartisan group of US legislators have filed amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would prevent the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey if Ankara continues its territorial overflights and air space violations in the Aegean.

The amendment was submitted to Congress at the initiative of Greek-American member of parliament Chris Pappas and was co-signed by Dina Titus, Carolyn B. Maloney, Charlie Crist, and John Sarbanes.

At the NATO Summit end of June, Joe Biden had promised President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he would solve the issue with the F-16.

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One comment

  1. Turkey looks at illegally pirating half of the Aegean and Biden dares consider sending F16 upgrades, enough with Biden shaking hands with people who are not there.