Turkey Urges Biden Administration To Be Decisive With The F-16 Deal Amidst Congress's Disapproval
Turkey urged the Biden administration to be serious about its decision to sell F-16 fighter jets to them. On January 18, Monday, they also asked Biden to convince the US Congress to stop opposing this $20 Billion defence deal.
US daily Wall Street Journal has reported that the Biden administration has asked Congress to sanction the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.
In conversation with reporters in Washington, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkish Foreign Minister in his conversation with Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, has reminded that Turkey’s resistance towards Sweden and Finland joining NATO, should not be a pre-condition of this military deal.
Turkey and Hungary are opposing the application of Sweden and Finland to jion NATO. The Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu gave a reminder to the US State Secretary Antony Blinken that the list of preconditions for this sale of F-16’s must not include Turkey’s resistance to the application of Sweden and Finland for joining the NATO alliance. The Joe Biden administration is in favour of moving forward with this deal, despite opposition from Congress over Turkey’s complicated track of human rights violations and perilous Syrian policy, while being a key member of NATO in the midst of the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
According to a report by Wall Street Journal, Ankara’s part in providing war-capable drones to Ukraine has helped in the restoration of its relationship with the White House, which set the table for discussion of the sale of 40 F-16 fighter jets and modernization of the existing 80 F-16s.
Officials from both the US and Turkish sides have been supportive of the F-16 deal, as this could help them in the restoration of Washington and Ankara’s defence relationship, which was distorted in 2017 after Ankara decided to buy the Russian Air Defence System. This relationship with Washington was further put under stress by Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, having good ties with Russia during the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Congress’s disapproval of the deal
US government officials, aware of the Turkish request to refill their air defence arsenal, have informed that the White House might be exploiting this defence deal to calculate the level of backing in Congress for the proposal to sell 40 new F-16 fighter jets to Ankara.
The US Congress has been stubborn with its opposition to this deal. US lawmakers and some senior Democrats from both houses of Congress are against this sale of F-16 fighter jets.
In March 2022, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan put forward this problem of the opposition to a lot of F-16s on a phone call to Joe Biden, the US president, and his counterpart.
Cavusoglu, the Turkish Foreign Minister, has reminded that the US administration must not destroy this defence deal between two members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation only because a few persons are blocking it.
Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been on the opposition’s front; people under him are the main leaders who review major foreign military exports.
According to the daily Wall Street Journal, members of the House from the pro-Greek Hellenic Caucus have put forward their disapproval of this deal in letters addressed to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Another influential person against this deal is Senator Jim Risch, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee. He had told the daily that Turkey being a critical NATO ally, he is keeping an open mind on permitting them to purchase the F-16s, but he is not fully positive and might need some convincing in the future.
Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen has also conveyed that he’s not comfortable with his deal citing the facts that Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan has been bombarding their Syrian-Kurdish allies and is on good terms with Russian President Vladimir Putin amidst the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Hollen is also concerned about Turkey not supporting the application of Sweden and Hungary to join the NATO alliance.
On the opposite side, the US ambassador to Turkey, former US Sen. Jeff Flake, has expressed his support for the defence sale in conversations with his former colleagues in the US Congress.