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28 May, 2024
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US government moving ahead with intention to sell F-16's to Turkey

'Turkey’s behavior gives rise to many reasonable questions, which are not limited to the actions that mainly interest Greece.'

Athanasios Ellis

Athanasios Ellis

The Biden administration is moving ahead with its intention to supply Turkey with 40 new F-16 fighter jets and upgrade 80 of the country’s older ones.

However, it would be wise if first, it answered an important question: How can a NATO member ignore the alliance to which it belongs, directly threaten another member with war, approach politically and procure state-of-the-art weapon systems from a country that is clearly a geopolitical competitor – if not a rival or enemy of the alliance – but also hinder the expansion of NATO and therefore contribute to its weakening.

In fact, after the recent anti-Turkey protests in Sweden, which culminated in the unacceptable and reprehensible act of the burning of the Quran by far-right mobs, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “froze” NATO expansion talks with the two candidate countries, Sweden and Finland.

Turkey’s behavior gives rise to many reasonable questions, which are not limited to the actions that mainly interest Greece.

As far as the sale of the F-16s is concerned, the effort will need to go through a reluctant Congress where there is a debate about how reliable an ally Turkey is. It is not only Erdogan’s unprecedented direct threats of invading Greece and the skyrocketing number of Turkish incursions into Greek airspace and over Greek territory, which obviously are a matter of deep concern for Athens.

It is Turkey’s behavior more generally, with the purchase of the Russian-made S-400s topping the list of actions that irritates many on both sides of the aisle. Other moves include Ankara’s stance on Syria, where it is preparing to once again attack the Kurds, one of America’s most loyal allies, as well as the blocking of NATO’s expansion.

In violation of the principle that guides sales of US weapons to allies, “Turkey seems to believe that once they are in possession of American weapons, they are free to use them against America’s interests, allies, partners, and in violation of American law,” as the #NoJetsForTurkey coalition recently pointed out in a statement which included a number substantive arguments the Biden administration and Congress cannot and should not easily dismiss.

Greece is the first one to want a stable, reliable Turkey that is not threatening a fellow ally in NATO. That should be Washington’s approach too, and through that prism proceed with respect to the potential sale of advanced aircraft to Ankara.

Cyprus  |  USA  |  Turkey

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