WASHINGTON, DC — The Biden administration has articulated in a March 17th letter to Congress that the potential sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey would benefit both the United States and NATO, particularly following Russia’s unprovoked assault on Ukraine.

“The Administration believes that there are nonetheless compelling long-term NATO alliance unity and capability interests, as well as U.S. national security, economic and commercial interests that are supported by appropriate U.S. defense trade ties with Turkey,” read a letter penned by Naz Durakoglu, a senior advisor in the State Department to Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ-06), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The correspondence was sent to Rep. Pallone in response to a bipartisan letter dated February 4th, led by both he and Congressman Gus M. Bilirakis (FL-12), that urged the Biden administration to rethink supplying Turkey with the 40 F-16 jets and nearly 80 modernization kits it requested near the end of 2021. More than 50 congressmen from the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues and the Congressional Hellenic Caucus signed their name to the letter, citing Turkey’s deployment of Russian S-400s missile defense systems and copious human rights violations as reasons to oppose the sale.

“The purchase of advanced fighter jets from the United States for Turkey’s military arsenal will not incentivize Erdogan to change course and become a good actor. It will more likely lead to further death and destruction in the region at the hands of his military,” the lawmakers wrote.

The recent letter sent by Durakoglu to Rep. Pallone claims that Turkey’s removal from the F-35 fifth-generation fighter jet program is a “significant price paid” for the S-400 purchase. She highlighted Turkey’s active contributions to NATO, stating: “Turkey is a longstanding NATO ally with the second-largest army in the alliance. It’s an active contributor to NATO missions, including most recently in Eastern Europe, the Black Sea, the Balkans and Afghanistan. Turkey’s support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and cooperative defense relations are an important deterrent to malign influence in the region.”

“It is disappointing to hear that the Biden Administration thinks that selling advanced weaponry, including modernized F-16s that may contain sensitive F-35 components, is going to advance U.S. and NATO interests in the long run.,” stated Armenian Council of America (ACA) Chairman Sevak Khatchadorian. “The letter showcases a 20th century approach to dealing with the Turkey of today, and we all know how well that strategy played out. This is a bad deal and it’s bad for America. We urge Congress to block this deadly weapons sale to the Erdogan regime should President Biden pursue it.”

As a grassroots organization, ACA is dedicated to working with all political leaders, offering Armenian related news, analysis and resources for policymakers, media, students and activists, advocating issues important to Armenian Americans. The ACA also aims to strengthen U.S. – Armenia and U.S. – Artsakh ties, the development of programs promoting sustainable economic growth and good governance in Armenia, while promoting the values and responsibilities of global citizenship.

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