Forty-four U.S representatives, led by U.S. Reps. John Sarbanes (D-MD) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), supported a June 15 letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis that urged the secretary to prevent the planned delivery of F-35 jets to Turkey.
Turkey’s actions that are undermining U.S. interests around the world, which includes its “repeated military actions against American interests;” the degradation of human rights and democracy under President Erdogan, and Turkey’s “clear intention to build a strategic partnership with Russia” were all presented as reasons for the legislators’ urging of the prevention of the transfer of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey.
Separately, the Senate Committee on Appropriations adopted an amendment in its Fiscal Year 2019 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill that contains language that would halt the transfer of F-35s to Turkey until Secretary of State Mike Pompeo certifies Turkey will not acquire the Russian S-400 Missile Defense System. U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies, successfully secured the amendment. Chairman of the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Senator James Lankford (R-OK), sponsored the amendment.
According to a statement issued by Senator Van Hollen, “This new legislative language goes a step further than the National Defense Authorization Act that the Senate passed this week, which restricts funding on the transfer of F-35 aircrafts to Turkey until the Secretary of Defense issues a report on removing Turkey from the F-35 program.”
“As we have long maintained, Turkey does not share the United States’ national interests nor is it a reliable ally,” AHI President Nick Larigakis said. “It is long overdue to hold Turkey accountable, and we are encouraged Congress is taking the measures to do so. We are grateful to the legislators who have come together in bipartisan fashion, in both chambers of Congress, to send a strong message to Turkey.”
He added, “We especially thank Congressmen Sarbanes and Bilirakis in the House, and Senators Graham, Lankford, and Van Hollen, for their leadership on this issue.”