ANCA welcomes escalation of Congressional opposition to F-16 sale to Turkey

35 US House Members Pledge to Block Biden Administration Sale of Fighter Jets to Ankara

WASHINGTON, DC – Thirty-five US Representatives have pledged – in a bipartisan letter to President Biden – to “take every action afforded to us as members of Congress” to block the sale of US F-16 fighter jets and upgrade kits to Turkey, in light of the Erdogan regime’s repression at home and aggression abroad against Greece, Cyprus, Armenians and Kurds, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

“Armenian Americans join with all our coalition partners in thanking Congressman Pallone for his leadership in checking Erdogan’s escalating threats of aggression against Greece, Cyprus, Armenians, and Kurds,” said ANCA executive director Aram Hamparian.  “We express our appreciation to all who joined this bipartisan appeal and who support legislative initiatives to block the reckless sale of F-16’s to Turkey.”

In addition to the ANCA, the following US civil society organizations are on the record opposing the sale F-16s to Turkey: American Friends of Kurdistan, American Jewish Committee, Hellenic American Leadership Council, In Defense of Christians, Middle East Forum, and PSEKA – International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus.

Congressional Armenian Caucus co-chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Hellenic Armenian Caucus co-chairs Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) were joined by Greek-American Representatives Chris Pappas (D-NH) and Dina Titus (D-NV) in securing Congressional co-signers on the letter to President Biden, sharing their deep concern about the support he expressed for an F-16 sale to Turkey during the recent NATO summit in Madrid, Spain.

The Congressional letter states, “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 letter concludes stating, “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.”

In addition to Representatives Pallone, Bilirakis, Maloney, Pappas, and Titus, Congressional co-signers on the letter to President Biden include Representatives Karen Bass (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Jim Costa (D-CA), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Charles Fleischmann (R-TN), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Susie Lee (D-NV), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), James McGovern (D-MA), Grace Meng (D-NY), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Jackie Speier (D-CA), David Valadao,  (R-CA), and Peter Welch (D-VT).

The full text of the Congressional letter to President Biden opposing the F-16 sale to Turkey is provided below.

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Text of Congressional letter to President Biden opposing the F-16 sale to Turkey

July 8, 2022

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 U.S. 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.

Sincerely

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The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
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@ANCA_DC

The Armenian National Committee of America works for truth, justice, peace & freedom on for all friends of the Armenian Cause. Also: @anca_er @anca_wr 🇦🇲

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