DIASPORA

Seven US organizations voice objections to Turkish F-16 upgrade

Seven US organizations voice objections to Turkish F-16 upgrade

Seven prominent organizations in the United States have written to the US Congress to express their alarm and concern that the Department of State is actively considering a Turkish request to purchase 40 F-16 fighter jets and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing fleet of military aircraft.

In separate letters to the chairmen and ranking members of the Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees of the House and Senate, the Hellenic American Leadership Council, PSEKA-International Coordinating Committee-Justice for Cyprus, American Friends of Kurdistan, American Jewish Committee, Armenian National Committee of America, In Defense of Christians and Middle East Forum voiced their clear objection to the sale.

“Turkey is recklessly risking war within NATO. To grant them new and upgraded F-16s would be equally reckless. Any American arms sales to Ankara must at a minimum be restricted to prevent their use in a way that risks conflict with Greece,” Endy D. Zemenides, executive director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council, said.

“Turkey uses American-made weapons to undermine the very security that Congress seeks to bolster,” Philip Christopher, PSEKA president, wrote.

Outlining Turkey’s abuse of Kurdish rights in Turkey, Diliman Abdulkader, president of the American Friends of Kurdistan, called on Congress to “set strict preconditions for such deals, such as the release of Selahattin Demirtas, Osman Kavala, and others in prison today … Turkey must demonstrate that it abides by international law and cannot get away with such violations simply because it is a NATO member.”

“Ankara’s sustained desire to purchase additional weapons – from any supplier, including Russia – does not bode well for US or NATO interests. Access to American weapons systems – including upgraded F-16s – is a privilege that Turkey must earn, not a right to which it is entitled,” said Julie Rayman, senior director of policy and political affairs at the American Jewish Committee.

Armenian National Committee of America executive director Aram Hamparian said that “American arms sales to Ankara come with narrowly defined statutory conditions and bilaterally agreed upon restrictions, including guarantees that US weapons will never be deployed against Armenians, Syriac-Assyrians, Greeks, Cypriots, the Kurds, or domestic civilian populations.”

Richard Ghazal, executive Director of In Defense of Christians, warned “Turkey continues to violate the Geneva Conventions in prosecuting its military campaign against American partners on the ground in northern Syria,” stating that the Syriac (Christian) Military Council, which enabled the US-led coalition’s defeat of ISIS, “is now being subjected to daily, unprovoked attacks by Turkey and Turkish-backed jihadist militias, using American-sourced weapon systems.”

“While the crisis in Ukraine is dire, Turkey remains a bad actor. Thus, concerns with Ankara must be addressed. Congress should insist that any transaction with Turkey not harm either America’s vital interests nor values,” said Clifford V. Smith, Washington project director of the Middle East Forum.