A bipartisan group of over 50 US Representatives joined Congressional Hellenic Caucus Co-Chair Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) in pressing the US Departments of State and Defense to block the sale of next-generation US F-16 fighter jets and upgrade kits to Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s increasingly hostile regime.
“We strongly urge you to reject Turkey’s request for new F-16s and modernization kits and take immediate action to hold the Erdogan regime accountable,” said a February 4 Congressional letter addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
“The United States must not provide any further support to Turkey’s military until President Erdogan takes tangible steps to halt his destabilizing actions and violations of international law at home and abroad. Precedent shows that he will not change his behavior until the United States uses all its diplomatic tools, including targeted economic sanctions,” it said
Members of Congress joining Representatives Pallone and Bilirakis in co-signing the letter to the Biden Administration are Representatives: Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ)Jim Costa (D-CA), Danny Davis (D-IL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Kathy Manning (D-NC), James McGovern (D-MA), Grace Meng (D-NY), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Katie Porter (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Mark Takano (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Lori Trahan (D-MA), David Valadao, (R-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Susan Wild (D-PA).
The Congressional action has broad support from a growing coalition of US ethnic, faith-based, and foreign policy groups concerned about the American security implications of arming Erdogan with cutting-edge US military technology while Turkey remains under sanctions for its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system and amid worsening government crackdowns on Turkish civil society.
“Congress is reminding Turkey that no amount of dinner parties and Twitter activity by Erdogan’s Ambassador in DC will smooth over the fundamental policy differences that led to Turkey being denied advanced American weapons. Congress is right in demanding a change of substance, not merely of style,” said American Hellenic Leadership Council Executive Director Endy Zemenides.