EMET Praises Congress for Restricting F-35 Sales to Turkey

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(Washington, D.C., July 25, 2018) Today, the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) praised Conferees for the U.S. Congress for producing a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would stop sales of the F-35 joint strike fighters to Turkey until the Pentagon reports on disturbing actions by Turkey.

The language in this NDAA is a culmination of EMET’s efforts to educate the Congress about the specific danger of the jet sale, and the general danger coming from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey.  For months, EMET has been meeting with offices on Capitol Hill to discuss these issues.  EMET staff have produced two fact sheets for Congressional staffers, detailing our concerns.  EMET has also held two seminars showcasing Turkish dissidents describing the dangerous policies of Erdogan’s Turkey.

The House and Senate Conferees announced the NDAA on Tuesday, July 24, 2018.  The NDAA legislates that the Pentagon stop the delivery of the F-35 joint strike fighters to Turkey until there is a new assessment on U.S.–Turkey relations.  Specifically, the NDAA would require the Pentagon to submit a report to lawmakers on the “overall strategic relationship with Turkey,” all foreign weapons sales to Turkey, and Turkey’s intended purchase of the Russian-made S-400 long-range air-defense system.  The report would be due within 90 days of the passing of the NDAA.  The NDAA also calls on Turkey “to release wrongfully detained U.S. citizens including Andrew Brunson and Serkan Golge.”  This NDAA language was included despite misinformed opposition coming from the administration.  The final votes on the NDAA will be held this week in the House, and in August in the Senate.

Although Turkey is a member of NATO, in a violation of its NATO responsibilities, it has bought the powerful S-400 missile defense system from Russia.  If Turkey also receives the F-35s from the U.S., operating the missile system alongside the F-35s would expose the jet’s secrets to the Russian manufacturers and supply them with crucial information on how to intercept them.  Even worse, President Erdogan has proposed that Turkey and Russia work together on producing an even more advanced S-500 missile system.

Unfortunately, this is not the only example of Erdogan’s Turkey shirking its duties to NATO.  Under Erdogan, Turkey has, at times, refused to coordinate its military strategy with NATO.  Under Erdogan, Turkey is holding two Americans on dubious charges.  Under Erdogan, Turkey has physically threatened fellow NATO member Greece.  Under Erdogan, Turkey has routinely threatened to flood its fellow NATO allies in Europe with Middle East migrants.  And under Erdogan, Turkey has even threatened to attack U.S. forces in Syria for their willingness to work with the Kurds in Syria.

Aside from violating its NATO duties, Turkey under Erdogan has often acting dangerously against U.S. national interests.  As noted by the former U.S. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Turkey has taken on a “new role” as a main sponsor of funding for radical Islamist ideology.  Turkey assisted Iran in evading Western sanctions, using a ‘gas-for-gold’ sanctions-busting scheme. Turkey aided ISIS by allowing men and supplies to move across its borders, and also played a key role in facilitating its expansion through black market oil sales – over $1 billion worth. Further, Turkey is a leading financer of Hamas, a U.S. designated terrorist organization, providing $250 million a year, and allows Hamas leaders to operate in the country.

Turkey has also acted against U.S. interests by invading Syria and massacring many of the Kurds living in the northwestern enclave of Afrin.  This delayed the Kurds fight against ISIS.  Right now, Turkey is engaging in a “population transfer,” replacing the Kurds—many of whom shed their blood fighting and dying together with American soldiers against ISIS-with Sunni Arab refugees.

Erdogan’s Turkey is also a dedicated opponent of Israel, and has threatened the Jewish State multiple times.

Turkey has also become an Islamist dictatorship under Erdogan.  In January 2018, the annual Freedom in the World report, produced by Freedom House, classified Turkey as “not free” for the first time.  Turkey’s human rights record has been increasingly poor.  Women’s rights have declined, and gays are increasingly threatened.  Turkey has gradually cracked down on the press, and on freedom of speech.  The Kurdish minority is increasingly discriminated against.  And political opponents of Erdogan are jailed, often on the flimsiest of charges.

“I would like to thank the Congressional conferees for their courage in standing up to the Turkish lobby and elements within the administration to prevent Islamist Turkey from receiving the F-35 fighter jets,” said EMET founder and president Sarah Stern.  She continued, “Too many Americans are mentally stuck in the 1990’s, when Turkey was a strong ally of the U.S.  Times have changed, and now Turkey is a danger to NATO, and a menace to American interests in the Middle East.  We cannot allow the Turks to take possession of the F-35’s, knowing that the Turks will allow the Russians to gain access to this jet’s technology.  EMET will continue to educate the Congress regarding this vital issue, until the final votes are taken.  Our nation’s security, and the security of other nations, such as Greece and Israel, depend on it.”

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The Endowment for Middle East Truth
Founded in 2005, The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) is a Washington, D.C. based think tank and policy center with an unabashedly pro-America and pro-Israel stance. EMET (which means truth in Hebrew) prides itself on challenging the falsehoods and misrepresentations that abound in U.S. Middle East policy.

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