The US Senate will oppose the sale of F-16s to Turkey until Sweden and Finland join NATO

Since the joint announcement made by Stockholm and Helsinki regarding a candidacy of the two countries to NATO in a procedure claiming to be urgent because of the war in Ukraine, Ankara and its President RT Erdogan have repeatedly argued his right of veto on the pretext that the two countries, and Sweden in particular, would welcome "terrorists" from the Kurdish Workers' Party and the Gulenist movement responsible, according to the Turkish authorities, for the 2016 coup attempt. Despite attempts at negotiations between the 3 capitals, it quickly became clear that the demands formulated by Ankara were unacceptable for the two Scandinavian countries which are very attached to respect for human rights and the rule of law. In fact, today, everything indicates that Turkey will not allow Sweden, and possibly also Finland, to join the Atlantic Alliance, which would block the whole process which requires unanimity of votes for an extension of NATO.

At the same time, Ankara has sent the United States a very large defense equipment export request, in the order of $20 billion., relating in particular to the acquisition of 40 F-16 Block 70 Viper and 80 kits to upgrade 80 of its aircraft to this standard. It is, for Ankara, to modernize its air forces, facing Russia perhaps; to Greece and the acquisition of 24 Rafales, the modernization of 80 F-16s to the Block 70 standard and soon F-35s, surely. Until now, although belonging to NATO, Ankara has been unable to order military equipment from the United States. sanctions enacted by the Senate following the entry into service of the S-400 system acquired from Russia. Without it ever being officially addressed, there is indeed a link between this Turkish request to modernize its forces, and the possible membership of Sweden and Finland in NATO.

The Turkish request to acquire new F-16s came after Greece began to collect its first Rafale F3Rs

It is precisely from this link thata signed letter from the US Senate, both Democrats and Republicans and sent to the White House, just created. For New Hampshire Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, and her Republican counterpart from North Carolina Thom Tillis, Congress will only consider Turkey's request for the sale of the F-16 fighter once Sweden's accession protocol and of Finland to NATO actually signed by Ankara. Paradoxically, some senators did not sign this letter, not because they are in favor of the sale of F-16s to Turkey, but because they are calling for tougher sanctions against Ankara, as is the case of New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, who had often taken very tough positions vis-à-vis Turkey in the past, and the Democratic Senator of Maryland Chris Van Hollen, who is calling for sanctions on Turkey because of the Ankara's opposition to the accession of the two Scandinavian countries to the alliance. Be that as it may, this letter shows that within the US Senate, there is a clear majority against allowing the export of new F-16s to Turkey, at least as long as the country opposes the NATO membership of these two countries. Note that this in no way indicates that once this membership has been acquired, the senate will authorize the execution of the Turkish contract.

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