Why Congress should not approve the sale of F-16 air-fighters to Turkey

Our State Department wants to persuade Congress to approve the sale of F-16 air fighters to Turkey. President Biden backed the deal after Turkey lifted its objections and allowed the entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO. But many lawmakers, led by Bob Menendez, the influential chair of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, and Carolyn Maloney, Gus Bilirakis, and Frank Pallone, Jr. in the House, oppose it. They are unwilling to ignore Turkey’s human rights violations, hostility towards its neighbors and blackmail. Many lawmakers are also troubled because Turkey continues to possess its Russian-built S-400 missile system despite American objections. They prepare for a fight.

The United States cannot fight in Ukraine for freedom, democracy and the rule of law and support the Turkish autocratic regime, and tolerate Turkey’s occupation of northern Cyprus and constant intrusions in Greece’s airspace and territorial waters.

Erdoğan has torn apart Turkey’s democratic norms and imprisoned journalists and political opponents. The Turkish ruler has significantly curtailed the rights of women. Recently, Ankara withdrew from the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty combating violence against women. Under the AKP, the number of women murdered by men rose rapidly, and Turkish femicide rates are among the worst.

Dying to Divorce (2021), a British documentary film directed by Chloe Fairweather portrays the brutal treatment of women in Turkey. In this film, President Erdoğan tells his audiences, “You cannot put women and men on an equal footing” and “that’s against nature.” The Turkish regime has also been notoriously brutal toward LGBTQ+ communities.

Giving Erdoğan’s Turkey F-16 air fighters would be a disastrous mistake. The Turks will not use these air fighters to fight Russia but to harass Greece, a staunch US ally, and Cyprus, an EU member state. They will kill Kurds, Armenians and Greeks as they did in the past and drop bombs on innocent Yazidi children and women.

A consistent and free of double standards foreign policy is crucial for US credibility. To hand over to the anti-democratic, anti-Western and belligerent Turkish regime F-16s would be a disgrace and insult to what the United States and the West are fighting and sacrificing in the war in Ukraine. It will go against our government’s commitment to defending democracy and international law. It would be a move against America’s real allies in the eastern Mediterranean (Greeks, Syrian Kurds and Armenians) for it would adversely affect their security. And what is more? It will send the wrong message that the Turks can blackmail the United States and get away with it.

Tony Antoniou is a social science educator from Queens, New York.

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.

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