Washington is betting on a “settlement” with the F-16 deal with Turkey
In exchange for Sweden and Finland’s membership in NATO
Wednesday – 3 Rajab 1444 AH – January 25, 2023 AD Issue number [
Washington: Elie Youssef--
The US Department of Defense (The Pentagon) revealed that a delegation from the ministry held a second round of consultations with the Turkish Ministry of National Defense, on the 18th of this month in Washington, about the F-35 fighter jet program, after the first round that was held in Ankara at the time. former. The statement added that the two delegations agreed to continue consultations, with the next meeting scheduled to be held in Ankara in the spring of 2023.
This comes as Ankara has long sought to modernize its old fleet of F-16 combat aircraft, after it was until 2019 on its way to obtain about 100 F-35 fighters, the most advanced fighter it produces. America. However, it was excluded from the program of this aircraft, due to its acquisition of the Russian air and missile defense system «S-400». This also led to the imposition of sanctions on Turkey under the Countering America’s Adversaries Act (CATSCA). The Biden administration informally notified Congress of its intention to sell 40 new F-16 fighter jets, along with 79 upgrade kits to modernize its existing fleet of the same aircraft, to the Turkish Air Force. A number of senior congressional leaders have vocally objected to the deal, citing Turkey’s human rights abuses, intimidation of its neighbours, especially Greece, as well as its blocking of applications by Sweden and Finland to join NATO. The Biden administration submitted the request to Congress, after the recent visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to Washington, where he discussed with his American counterpart Anthony Blinken the “outstanding files” between the two countries, especially the “F-16” deal, which only succeeded in “. A partial solution”, to the disputes over it. The value of the deal is $20 billion, which includes, in addition to aircraft, 900 air-to-air missiles and 800 bombs. The administration also plans to sell at least 30 F-35s to Greece, in a move designed to mitigate objections from congressional leaders.
Despite this, the lawmakers were outraged by what they described as Turkey’s growing threats to Athens, considering it merely “one of Erdogan’s provocations,” which ranged from protecting Hamas leaders to helping Iran move billions of dollars in violation of US sanctions. With the White House notifying Congress of the deal, lawmakers have two weeks to respond to the request. Although Republican and Democratic leaders objected to the deal, they had never succeeded in preventing arms sales to foreign countries. Observers doubt that Congress’s objections today will succeed in stopping the deal with Turkey, especially since the US President has the right to veto rejecting Congress’ decisions, which is what happened in previous deals. While it is not yet known whether the White House will proceed with issuing an official notification of the deal, some expected the possibility of reaching a realistic “settlement” between Washington and Ankara regarding some of the contentious files between them. They talked, for example, that the obstacles to Turkey’s approval of Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO, in exchange for the aircraft deal, would be overcome because of its urgent need for it today, despite the loud noise and the recent tension between the capitals of the three countries, especially after the incident. Burning of the Holy Quran, in Sweden.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the burning of a copy of the Qur’an by a far-right activist in Sweden may be “targeting unity within NATO.”
“The burning of books considered sacred to many is an extremely degrading act, it is abhorrent, it is disgusting and it is abhorrent,” Price told reporters on Monday evening. But, he added, the burning of the Koran was the work of someone “aiming at provocation” and “may have deliberately sought to distance two close allies… Turkey and Sweden.” Price indicated that he “may have deliberately sought to influence the ongoing discussions regarding the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO.” Despite this, Price defended Sweden’s position, saying that it supports “freedom of assembly” and that the act “may be legal, but it may also be outrageous at the same time.”