AHI Issues Scathing Commentary on Turkey, Questions US Potential Sale of F-16s Tied to Sweden’s Accession to NATO

The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) issued a press release on Saturday expressing its deep concern about the Biden Administration’s position regarding the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan announced on July 11, 2023, that the Biden Administration “intends to move forward” with selling the latest version of the Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jet to the government of Turkey.

This came amid the latest NATO summit in Lithuania, which took place from July 11-12, 2023. The AHI believes the Biden Administration announcement is a direct result of Turkey indicating its approval of Sweden’s accession to join NATO.

“Collective defense, which underpins the fundamental concept of NATO, is achieved by implementing cooperative security measures among the member states to deter potential aggressors,” stated the press release. “Cooperative security measures encompass military cooperation, the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. The US is vital and indispensable to NATO, and NATO cohesion can only exist if the US acts to maintain and enhance cooperative security measures. President Biden has frequently highlighted NATO as a centerpiece of US foreign policy and the AHI supports efforts by the current Administration (and any US Administration) to strengthen and bolster NATO. While we understand that, most likely, there were complicated discussions between countries within NATO regarding the sale of arms to Turkey, we continue to have our reservations.”

“As we have expressed in the years since AHI was founded in 1974, Turkey has consistently acted to undermine the fundamental principles of NATO. The most egregious act was when Turkey purchased the S-400 missiles from Russia in 2017, resulting in US sanctions and Turkey’s removal from the F-35 fighter jet program,” stated the press release. “Almost equally egregious is the fact that Turkey deliberately violates US laws on how Turkey can use arms which the US has supplied. Under the Armed Export Control Act (AECA), Turkey can use US-supplied arms only for legitimate self-defense. For decades, Turkey has regularly sortied its F-16 fighters into the sovereign airspace of Greece without any act by Greece which could be remotely described as aggressive. Every time that Turkey uses US-supplied aircraft to infringe on Greek airspace, it violates US law and, in particular, the AECA, by breaching the terms that apply to the sale and use of US military equipment to foreign countries.”

“In 1974, Turkey violated US law when it used US-supplied arms to unlawfully invade the Republic of Cyprus, has continuously occupied one-third of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus and forcibly removed the rightful owners of property located in the occupied territory,” continued the press release. “As a result, in 1975, AHI successfully spearheaded a congressional arms embargo imposed on Turkey for their invasion of Cyprus and violation of the rule of law. AHI argued that Turkey violated the US Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA) and the Foreign Military Sales Act (FMSA) in its invasion of Cyprus with the illegal use of American supplied arms and equipment. Forty-nine years later, Turkey has not removed one soldier from the occupied part of Cyprus.”

AHI indicated that it opposes the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey as a matter of principle and US law. It alleges that Turkey has continuously displayed itself as not being a reliable and faithful ally and there is no guarantee they will change course in the future.

AHI believes the US continues to maintain CAATSA sanctions on Turkey’s Defense Industry Agency (formerly Presidency of Defence Industries) for their purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems. 

“As such, the US transfer of F-16 jets to Turkey would not be appropriate, unless conditions are added and the jets are given to an entity other than Turkey’s Defense Industry Agency,” continued the press release. “Otherwise, this could potentially lead to an inappropriate undermining of the intent and authority of Congress.”

The AHI also believes it is against the best interest of the US to supply Turkey with the F-16 fighter jets as President Erdogan has promoted an aggressive, expansionist policy pushing for hegemony in North Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. 

“Given how unpredictable President Erdogan is, we must understand that his behavior can change at any moment,” stated the press release. “In December 2022, President Erdogan went so far as to threaten to launch missiles at Greece. In 2022 alone, Turkey had violated Greek airspace over 11,000 times. Two decades ago, Turkey refused to allow the US military transit rights to open a northern front against Saddam Hussein unless it was given $32 billion. At that time, a Bush Administration official called Turkey’s negotiating tactics ‘extortion in the name of alliance.’ The US must not repeat the mistakes of the past,” concluded the press release.