As US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be hosting his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Washington on Wednesday, the Biden administration will be moving ahead with its stated intention to supply Turkey with 40 new F-16s and modernization kits to upgrade 80 of its older ones.
The effort will need to go through a reluctant Congress where there will be a debate about how reliable an ally Turkey is.
It is not only Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s unprecedented direct threats of invading Greece and the skyrocketing number of Turkish incursions into Greek airspace and over Greek territory which are obviously a matter of deep concern for Athens.
It is Turkey’s behavior more generally, with the purchase of S-400s from Russia topping the list of actions, that irritate 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.
The chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Bob Menendez, is the most vocal opponent of supplying F-16s to Turkey while the latter continues its provocative behavior in a number of areas including the ones mentioned above, but there are many others, in both houses of the Congress, who share his concerns and doubts about the credibility of present-day Turkey.
In violation of the principle which guides sales of US weaponry 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 recently coalition pointed out in a statement which includes a number a substantive arguments the administration and Congress cannot and should not easily dismiss.
Greece, more than anyone else, wants a stable, reliable Turkey that is not threatening a fellow ally in NATO and opts for regional cooperation rather than confrontation stemming from its revisionist vision.
That should be Washington’s approach too, and through that prism proceed with respect to the potential sale of advanced aircraft to Ankara.
The argument about keeping Turkey anchored to the West is a valid one, but it takes two to tango.